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To-do list: the complete guide to sprucing up your to-do list

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There are two types of people in life: those who make to-do lists and those who don't.Whether you're already in the first category or are seriously considering joining the "to-do list", the following tips may be of interest to you because let it be said, there is a to-do list and a to- do list…!

Everyone indeed separates the sticky note scribbled on a corner of a loose leaf from the actual list of actions that will help you stay on course for the whole day, or even for weeks and months. .

There are as many to-do lists as there are situations.We often tend to believe, wrongly, that to-do lists are not able to adapt to long or complex projects, and that they only constitute a small supplement to our daily organization.

However, to-do lists have many advantages, such as boosting our motivation, helping us get our heads above water, lightening our mental load and organizing our time in a realistic and concrete way.They also have significant potential and some simple improvements can allow you, with a minimum of effort, to transform your classic to-do list into a real organizational tool.

1.A good to-do list = words + symbols + colors

In terms of organization, we tend to use only one language: that of words.However, this is not always the most suitable.The tools we use for our organization must indeed be able to transmit a maximum of information in a minimum of time and effort.

So why not take advantage of the richness of visual language? Choose a color code and symbols that will allow you to communicate the equivalent of several words in one sign.

For example, you can choose a yellow to-do list for your professional activities and a pink for your personal activities, write your priority tasks in red or symbolize their importance using an appropriate pictogram.

2.Adopt different scales

We mostly use to-do lists for day-to-day tasks, but going day-to-day has some drawbacks.Not least, the risk of finding yourself only managing emergencies or failing to prioritize your actions.

This is why we advise you to start with your biggest tasks, for example the projects that you would like to have started – if not finished – by the end of the year.Write them down on a "2021" to-do list.

Then break down each of these projects into several blocks, which you will distribute over the months.Choose one or two big tasks to accomplish each month.You can set, at each end or beginning of the month, a time to plan the coming month according to the monthly tasks you want to accomplish.This will allow you not to lose sight of your medium-term objectives, while remaining in touch with the reality of everyday life.

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3.Break down your goals into tasks

Speaking of goals, do you know how to write your to-do lists so that they serve their primary purpose of helping you get done? ?

A to-do list is not a list of wishes or good resolutions.It is, literally, a to-do list.Keep this in mind when creating your to-do list.Each entry must correspond to a concrete action, and not to an objective.

Forget wordings like: "Finish case for Patricia" and prefer less vague actions like: "Reread case for Patricia" or "Send case to Patricia".

4.In terms of to-do list, precision is the condition of the action

Similarly, focus on precision when writing your lists.Clearly defining each of the actions to be accomplished in your day or your week will help you better manage your time and maintain a better overall vision of your projects.

Do not hesitate to detail your tasks as much as possible.For example, instead of "Review file for Patricia" you could write "Review file for Patricia and incorporate all corrections".

Thinking in advance about all the actions that underlie each of your tasks will allow you to have a better awareness of the work that awaits you and therefore to have more realistic expectations of yourself and so avoid frustration.

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5.Estimate the time needed

If you had to choose just one piece of advice to apply in this guide, it would be this: estimate the time needed for each of your tasks.

Indicate this time next to each of your tasks.If you have chosen to write a to-do list for your day, remember that it has a limited number of hours! This exercise will help you manage your time better and be more realistic and forgiving.and with yourself.

And to do this, don't forget that we spend on average 30% of our time dealing with the unexpected! So plan some time in your days for all your basic "everyday" tasks, like reading and answering your emails, as well as for any unforeseen events.

6.Your to-do list should also be used to prioritize and categorize

By the way, do you know the rule of the organization "1, 3, 5"? This states that we should plan in our days a maximum of 1 main task, 3 secondary tasks and 5 quick tasks to perform.

But of course, rules are also made to be broken.What should be remembered here is that it is essential to prioritize the actions to be taken in our day.And for this to be possible, one should not overload oneself with urgent and important tasks.

If you have difficulty prioritizing, we advise you to consult our article on time management and test the prioritization grid method presented there.This allows you to prioritize your tasks according to their degree of urgency and importance.Then choose a simple visual code for your priority tasks.

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7.Organize your to-do list at your own pace

You should then adapt all of this at your own pace.The morning may not be the time of day when your productivity is at its peak.You will then reserve the less demanding tasks at that time.

According to an English study, it takes an average of 66 days to adopt a new habit.Perseverance will be your best ally here! If you will certainly need time to adapt, the strategy will however pay off in the long term.

After just over two months, you will be able to perfectly estimate the time needed for each activity and will have learned when your energy is most suited to a particular type of activity.

8.Plan rewards and downtime

In addition to the contingencies and daily activities we discussed earlier, you will need to think about planning downtime... and rewards!

You can thus include in your to-do list, just after your priority task, a reward that will allow you to take a break in your day, before starting your secondary tasks, with a lighter heart.

9.Give yourself time: make a to-do list for the week rather than the day

Even if these are the to-do lists that we are most used to making, daily to-do lists are also the riskiest.We tend to concentrate a maximum of activities there over a relatively short period of time.

Making your to-do list weekly rather than daily will reduce the risk of finding yourself with a large number of undone tasks at the end of it.

It will probably take several weeks before you can accurately estimate the amount of time to devote to all your daily activities (answering emails, etc.) and contingencies and therefore reduce the amount of undone tasks at the end of the week.

You can thus include in your to-do list, just after your priority task, a reward that will allow you to take a break in your day, before starting your secondary tasks, with a lighter heart.

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10.What if after your to-do list, you make a "done list"?

It's good for morale... and for your balance sheet! Go even beyond the pleasure of crossing off each of your completed tasks and put them on a "done list", literally, a "to do list".

In addition to giving a boost to your motivation, this practice can allow you to make a precise assessment of the actions you have taken, for example each month.This will allow you to analyze the time actually spent on each project or activity.

This done-list can help you make more precise estimates, which are very useful especially if your activity involves producing estimates based on your working time.

In summary.

How to write an effective to-do list?

  1. Use words, color coding and symbols,
  2. Make to-do lists at different scales (year, month, weeks…),
  3. Break down your goals into tasks,
  4. Be specific,
  5. Estimate the time needed for each task,
  6. Prioritise and categorize your tasks,
  7. Organize your to-do list at your own pace,
  8. Plan rewards and downtime,
  9. Give yourself time: think about the week rather than the day,
  10. Make a “done list”!

The power of a carefully crafted to-do list is often underestimated.This simple "little piece of paper" can indeed be of great help in many situations! Combined with the modular side of Foglietto, you can fully integrate it into your projects, for example thanks to the Kanban organizer folders or by using the sheet numbering system to easily associate notes with the tasks you need realize.In short, the to-do list is a simple and effective way to better manage your time!

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