What I learned this week:
I’ve discovered the further I segment my to-do list, the more productive / less stressed I become. First of all, I use ToDoist. I pair it with the phone app, I adore it, and it even has a Gmail integration. If you need a to-do list app, get ToDoist.
But aside from that, I’ve started doing two things differently. I change the priority of different tasks, and if it’s not something I’m going to realistically get done today, I move it to tomorrow.
I’ve got a friend, Matt, who told me he tried ToDoist and never got anything done. He used it to write down ideas for his personal business, things he wanted to do and try, but it ended up piling up to over 100 items.
When your to-do list piles up that high, you stop. You can’t tackle it, and the sheer analysis paralysis will prevent you from doing even one thing at a time. It’s discouraging to see that high of a number, and you can’t predict how long it will take. That stops you.
Even when my to-do list gets up to 10 items, I start to freeze. When that happens, I assess what I know I can get done today if I work hard, and I move the rest to tomorrow or next week.
Now, aside from scheduling well, setting priority is important. Tag your to-do items with how long each will take. I separate mine via the levels of priority Todoist has. If something takes less than 10 minutes, or it isn’t difficult at all, I tag it with priority 3, and that colors it blue. If it’s a work item, which usually means it takes 20-30 minutes, I tag it at priority 2 (yellow). And finally, if it’s one of the big tasks I’m working on right now, or something I need to get done today, it’s priority 1 (red).
The color scheme may seem silly, but it’s decreased my stress VASTLY. Because previously, whenever I looked at my list my brain would immediately start desperately trying to assess how long each to-do would take, and calculate what I should tackle first. Now I glance at the list and I’m reassured. Even if there’s a lot to do, I know how long it takes. I see that most of the items take less than 10 minutes. I know what items I have to prioritize and complete first before I work on anything personal. All the mental calculation is done for me.
Segment your to-do list items, and schedule them appropriately. Try ToDoist. It drops your stress immensely, and nothing slips through the cracks. If you use another to-do app, try the color scheme at the bare minimum.
If you’ve got anything else to add here, I would love your tips on how to use to-do lists effectively. :)