If you’re like me, you have a to-do list a mile long that seems to get even longer with each passing day.
At least, that’s the way I used to operate — until I started my process of using two separate to-do lists: A weekly list and a daily list.
Here’s how it works:
1) The Weekly To Do List
This is where I dump all the projects and to-do’s that pop into my head throughout the day. As soon as I think about them, I put them in my “long to do list” in Evernote. I make sure not to check this to-do list throughout the day, and I only glance it at quickly in the morning when I’m pulling off items to include on my daily to-do list. This longer, weekly to-do list serves as my mental inbox, and getting things out of my head and into this inbox serves as stress reliever.
2) The Daily To Do List
Each morning, glance at my big to-do list and pull off three or four (no more than four) project items to tackle that day. It’s vital that you select no more than three or four items, which should only include one or two big items for the day. I nail out these priority items first thing in the morning, before I’ve even checked my email. This ensures that my important items for the day are hit early, leaving the rest of the day for the emergencies, unforeseen projects and client calls that are sure to come.
I find this dual-to-do-list strategy has really helped keep me on track. It helps me focus each day on my priority items without jumping around aimlessly on my mile-long to-do list.
The key is really tackling the day’s priority to-do’s first thing in the morning before I open my email inbox. If I finish my priority to-do’s early, and find myself ahead of the game, I also try hard not to jump ahead to the next day’s priorities. Why? Because it helps me keep an even-keel of consistency — and allows me to enjoy those days when I’m ahead of the game without piling on more work.
How do you manage your to-do lists? We’d love to hear about your productivity tips in the comments section!