I write everything down, whether it is a delicious recipe idea from a restaurant, errands I should run during my lunch hour, or a funny article recommendation from a friend. If I write it down, I will not forget it and I will certainly get to it sometime soon, right?
Well, as we all know, to-do lists can become unmanageable. Priorities get in the way; why spend the afternoon getting your car washed when there is a marathon of your new favorite TV show?
To-do lists at work are equally challenging. On a typical day (at a previous job), I met with my boss each morning to discuss my to-do list and to be assigned other priority tasks. I then returned to my desk and immediately began Task A.
Ten minutes later, I would be interrupted by a call and attend to the client’s request. This might take 5 minutes of my time. I would attempt to return to Task A, but then realize it was time to prepare for the weekly staff meeting. After the meeting, I might check my voicemail and email. Eventually, I would try to complete Task A, only to hit a roadblock by needing an answer or approval from my boss. I would move on to Task B in the meantime, but then take a lunch break… you get the idea.
Everyone has interruptions throughout their day, but whether you need to work more efficiently and productively to get that promotion, or stay on-task during the tedious job searching process, list-making is still a valuable tool.
Here are 4 Tips to keep your to-do list under control:
1. Rewrite Your To-Do List Daily
For a fresh start, clear your mind and start with a clean slate. However, don’t forget about things you’ve been adding. This will help you consistently re-prioritize your tasks, and keep up with daily demands.
2. Keep It Visible
Whether it’s a daily planner, post-it note or blog, keep your list in a place that fits your lifestyle. Emailed calendar reminders or push notifications from your phone are great, but ensure you have a version of the complete list in full view at all times. Check out point #4 for my favorite phone app for task-keeping.
3. Add Completed Items and Problems
This is the most important part: Keep track of tasks that you completed, that were not originally on the list. What interruptions became part of what was accomplished that day? Make notes on how long each item took, or what problems you encountered. This extra effort helps you analyze how you can more efficiently spend your time. As a bonus, it helps you look at your accomplishment as a “glass half-full” rather than “half-empty.”
4. Note-Taking Apps Will Change Your Life
Have you found yourself rustling through the bottom of your purse or furiously searching through your wallet for that crumpled to-do list that you scribbled on the back of a receipt? I used to be a victim, but now I use Evernote, one of the hottest note management apps on the market. You can save pictures, voice memos, web pages, and write as many notes as you like. Notes can be categorized into folders, and then tagged and searched. You can even share and collaborate on notes with members of your team, family or friends. Take advantage of technology and explore what the digital market has to offer.
Staying organized through to-do lists will improve your productivity at work, streamline your processes, and help you remain competitive. Whether you are looking to clean up your job application process, you need a boost at work, or you just need to remember how your best friend made that amazing dessert, these tips will help.
Author Name – Mary Kelly
Title – Resource Recruiter
Location – Washington, DC
Twitter – @MKProfiles
Byline – Mary joined the Profiles team as a Recruiter in early 2012. A lover of all things new and exciting, Mary is soaking up the cutting-edge trends of the marketing and interactive space. A DC-area native, Mary never gets tired of hunting for the hottest new restaurants in town, and finding any excuse to speak Spanish.
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