How to create your perfect To Do list

I completely missed the deadline for submitting this blog to my brother for our website. I feel so bad. Nate has been working hard to produce this cool helpful property website.  Unfortunately I have been so overloaded with renovations and paperwork, so when I have a spare hour before bed, I am too tired to think.

Writing about my tiredness from overload, has made me realise that perhaps I have been not working as efficiently as I can.  If I did then this deadline mishap would not happen. So the topic I want to explore today is ‘How can I manage my time more effectively?’

In order to write this blog I have had to do some analysing. Analysing the days when I have been most productive, most organised, had consistent energy levels, and what actions I took to achieve that state.

One of the small actions I take on my most productive days is writing a To Do List (while listening to Heather Small’s Proud). Originally, I forced myself to do this every day. If I am being honest, some days I completely failed due to cba (can’t be arsed) syndrome.

However, I persevered though the laziness and kept believing I could make writing To Do Lists a habit. Now, writing a To Do List in the morning is like an addiction. I freak out if I can’t find my pen or notepad because I am so desperate to get all the things I need to do out my head ASAP!

Step 1: Start with the end in mind

The doors, property, to-do lists
Of course this would be a very different article if I woke up and listened to The Doors’ The End every morning

I start the day by thinking “What do I need to do to allow me to me sit back in my chair at the end of the day and feel good?” Feel good knowing I made the best use of my time. Then I value my time to relax at the end of the day more because I feel I have earned it. If I feel I have earned something, it is that much more enjoyable to receive.

Whereas days when I feel as though I haven’t made the most of my time, I choose to work late. Whenever I work late my work is usually sloppy and unfocused. However, I don’t want to tear myself away from the laptop and relax because I feel I haven’t deserved it. So I continue being inefficient. I produce sub-standard work until the early hours of the morning till I fight to keep my eyelids open. Only then do I tear myself away and go to bed.

If I feel I have procrastinated or wasted my time I get so angry and frustrated at myself. Which is kind of funny (HA HA) because I am the one who is actively making the choice to waste my time.

So, I work backwards. What do I want to have achieved with my day? And therefore, what do I need to do today? Whatever that is I write it down and make a To Do List. For me, I HAVE to write tasks down for several reasons:

  1. I forget them otherwise.
  2. Putting my thoughts on paper helps me clear space in my mind to focus on the task in hand. Focused work allows me to complete tasks quicker and to a higher standard.
  3. I absolutely adore ticking things off lists!

The song Proud serves as a good reminder of what I want to achieve (feeling proud of my day) and pumps me up to write my To Do List. Knowing I will get that sense of satisfaction at the end of the day, motivates me to start my To Do List, no matter how grueling I perceive some of the tasks. I have other little techniques I use if I need more motivation to get on with my tasks and I will cover those in a future blog.

Step 2: “Does it need to be done today?”

how-to, priorities, wealth
It’s not always that a road sign gives you life changing advice Image Credit Juan J. Martínez

So I finally got into the habit of writing a To Do List every day. Which has definitely increased my productivity, however, some days I was still left a little unsatisfied. But, how could this be? I have a To Do List!

I went to seek advice from my mentor (aka Dad). He explained the importance of prioritising my tasks. Even though I ticked off lots of tasks on my To Do List, they were all small unimportant things. The bigger, more pressing tasks remained undone. The pressure of still needing to complete them was the reason the felt unsatisfied, like I still had a weight on my shoulders.

Dad taught to ask myself a very helpful question “Does that task need to be done today?” If yes, I put a star next to it to symbol it is a priority task. If no, then I will get to it when I get to it.

This one little question has saved me a lot of stressing! Just because something is on my To Do List, it doesn’t mean it has to get done today. I can roll it over to tomorrow.

My original thinking was “I have to complete everything on my To Do List and only then am I allowed to go to bed”. I’m such a nutter, why did I allow my To Do List to rule my life?

The truth behind To-Do lists

Whilst it seems like the purpose of writing my To Do Lists is to get as much productive work done as possible, the real purpose is to help me have a feeling of satisfaction. I love the feeling of reflecting back on my day knowing I utilised every second of the day I have been blessed with. That feeling inspires so much joy.

I believe one of the things we should focus on while living on this planet is feeling good. Doing things that make us feel good. If we do things that don’t enable us to have feel positive we should really ask “what on earth am I are doing with my life?”

Writing a To Do List helps you stay focused, prioritise and increases the ‘thinking space’ in your brain, allowing you to think quicker and more creatively.

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