10 Ways To Smash Your To-Do List
“I’ll just get into the office early tomorrow morning and do it then.”
“I work better under pressure!”
“I will take my laptop home and work in bed instead.”
Sound familiar? Don’t worry, we’ve all made excuses to justify our procrastination before. Whether it’s a looming deadline, or just an email you’ve been putting off all day, procrastination can quickly lead to your to-do list spiralling out of control. One small task turns into a few, and before you know it, you have 20 things left to tick off and it’s already 4:45pm.
Instead of scrolling through your Instagram feed, or making your 16th cup of tea of the day, it’s time to take control. 90% of professionals admit to not being able to complete their to-do list in an average work day and we say: enough is enough!
So without further ado, here are our top ten tips on how to absolutely smash your workload:
- Our first and most crucial tip is this: have every task in one place. With emails, phones, notepads and sticky notes, it can be difficult to keep track. Choose just one method of note taking that works best for you and collate all your to-do’s there. Don’t rely on six different methods, you’ll end up needing a list for your lists.
- It’s easy to arrive at work in the morning fresh as a daisy, yet end up wasting the first hour of the day writing down everything you need to complete. Instead, utilise the last ten minutes of your work day, or 10 minutes before bed, to write down your to-do list for the following day. Make sure you’re ready to crack on with your first task as soon as your bum hits the seat.
- When it comes to writing your to-do list, the most productive way is to use the ‘1-3-5’ method. 1 big task, 3 medium tasks and 5 small tasks are thought to be the amount of work that can be realistically completed in one work day. This will help you prioritise tasks which need to tackled first, and which little jobs can wait.
- Next up, Time Boxing. Set up time slots for each task and give yourself mini deadlines (i.e. ‘I will complete this between 10am-11am.) This way, you won’t start one task, get completely lost in it, then look up from your keyboard and realise its 4:30 pm. Awkward.
- Are you a morning or an evening person? If you’re an early bird, ready to take down an army first thing in the morning, pop all your big jobs in the AM. If you’re more of a ‘I can’t function until at least 2pm after my sixth cup of coffee’ kind of person, then schedule in your challenging tasks for the afternoon.
- Here’s a tip for all you commuters out there. Let’s say you’re on a train for 40 minutes a day. You could utilise this time to start preparations for any big tasks you have coming up on your to-do list, by doing a bit of research on your phone or making note of any ideas you’d like to flesh out. Even just answering a few emails is ticking something off your to-do list before you step foot in the office!
- Look, do you really need to do everything you’ve written down today? For example, could your meeting be re-arranged? Could you push a task to next week? Could you delegate a job to someone else? Use your time wisely and try not to waste time on non-essential tasks.
- Ever heard of the phrase ‘a clean space makes a clear mind?’ If your workstation resembles a pig sty, take 10 minutes to clear it up. It’s almost impossible to be productive whilst you’re surrounded by stacks of papers and old chocolate wrappers.
- ‘Brain food’ isn’t myth; our brains need to be fed just like our stomachs. The most notorious food to fuel your brain is fish, as it’s filled with omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for brain function. Order the salmon at lunch to give yourself a little boost for the afternoon.
- Reward yourself! Sometimes the best way to motivate yourself is by dangling a carrot in front of your eyes. Limit your snacks throughout the day so that they line up with ticking things from your list. Each time you tick something off, reward yourself with a tea break. It’s not just children who love gold stars!
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