|How many things do you remember on a daily basis? From phone and PIN numbers to meetings at work and family birthdays… the list seems endless! And what’s more it is estimated that the average person’s short-term memory can only hold seven pieces of information for about 30 seconds. And it’s safe to say that most of us have more than seven tasks we need to keep track of. To help solve this problem, many people turn to a good old ‘To Do list’ of projects, task and personal goals. Unfortunately though, for some people these lists can become a source of regret or a reminder of the things we feel we should have done but haven’t yet completed.But help is at hand – there are ways to turn daunting to-do lists into a useful tool to help you stay on track. Try these simple tips yourself or implement them across your organisation to turn your 2014 To-Do lists into To-Done lists!
- Organise the lists of projects. Do you have lists all over the place – on your computer at home, your work laptop, stuck on the fridge, on your mobile etc? The first step is to get everything in order and make one master list. Then, break the master list into categories, such as: work, home, personal, family.Hint: To easily identify these categories and their associated projects, create a colour coding system with coloured page flags to visually separate them. Use a Journal Book or a Mini Combo Organiser for note-taking or hand-written messages. For instance, work-related projects may be flagged the colour green and personal projects may be coloured orange.
- Prioritise the projects. Not all projects are created equal. Don’t feel like you have to tackle everything at once. A simple rating system can help you to identify the most critical tasks.Hint: At work, it can be challenging to prioritise tasks when everything appears to be urgent. Ask your line manager or colleague to guide the prioritisation by communicating the key strategic initiatives and their deadlines – then align tasks to follow suit.
- Take baby steps. Segment the largest projects into a series of milestones of much smaller projects or phases. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with either a long-term project or one that is highly complex; but in smaller, bite-sized pieces, it is can then seem much more manageable.Hint: Large projects often have multiple team members involved. A quirky product such as hand clappers can bring some fun to proceedings and remind the team they should always ask for a hand when needed.
- Set achievable goals. In many cases we may be unrealistic with our lists, thinking that we can do more in one day than we really can. To avoid feeling disgruntled with not completing a list, set achievable goals that allow for ‘small wins’ along the way.Hint: Use small wins as morale boosters in the workplace. Express your thanks after a series of tasks have been successfully completed, for example giving a small token of appreciation such as a mug, pen or sweet treat that’s printed Thank You can go a long way in maintaining morale and showing you appreciate their efforts.
- Re-evaluate & Re-prioritise. Lists and priorities are fluid and are rarely set in stone. They are ever-changing and evolving and reflect our lives. It’s important not to become demoralised if a task needs to be moved, re-prioritised or even deleted from your list.Hint: Review lists and their priority at the start of every day. Decide the most critical tasks for that day and others around as appropriate to enable you to accomplish the most pressing.
Lists can be your new best friend, helping both you and your organisation increase productivity. Whether you choose electronic lists or maintain a hand-written list, simply following these tips should enable you to turn your to-dos into to-dones.