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How to Best Manage To-Do Lists

Jan 11, 2022    
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Have you ever looked at your to-do list and felt instantly overwhelmed? When we're faced with a large (and seemingly endless) number of tasks, we often feel demotivated and incapable of getting started. The finish line feels too far away, and as a result, we often do nothing. Sometimes it's a case of assigning too many tasks to one day, and sometimes it's because your tasks aren't measurable or are too broad and are therefore destined to stay on your to-do list for a long time. Other times, uncompleted tasks from previous days carry over to today and leave you with an unmanageable amount of work.

It's not that to-do lists are inherently bad, but rather how we use them. Finding better ways of managing your to-do lists can help kick you into action, and ultimately, spark better results.

Time-boxing

People often feel put off from starting a task they know will take several hours to complete. One way around this is to use time-based task management techniques. For example, the Pomodoro technique is popular in productivity circles. This is where you work for 25 minutes (focus), then have a 5-minute break. You do this 3 or 4 times and then get a 15-minute break before the cycle repeats.

Assign Priority to Tasks

Bill Gates famously said he doesn't use to-do lists because they weigh the importance evenly across all tasks. Luckily, modern to-do list apps have a way around this. Many apps allow you to assign priority using a point scale to decide which tasks are most and least critical.

The Eisenhower Method

Also called the Eisenhower matrix, President Eisenhower coined this method. It works like this; all items on your to-do list are evaluated using the important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent criteria and then put into quadrants. This helps organize which tasks you should complete first and which you can leave until later. Why? Because we often think all tasks on our to-do list are important, but if everything is important, nothing is important. Where do you begin if you have 20 equally important items? Often, you don't start at all. Once you've organized your items into quadrants, you can begin working through the list, first working on all items that fall into the important and urgent quadrant.

Gamifying Your Tasks

Gamification is the process of applying game mechanics (rules and constructs) to a non-gaming environment. You can gamify almost anything in many different ways, but here we're going to focus on how you can gamify your to-do list to add a little fun and promote productivity.

  • Pick a number: Pick a number at random using a dice or a random number generator. This number will be the number of tasks you need to complete from your to-do list today. This method is effective because it forces you to think about the most critical tasks on your list.
  • Surprise rewards: Write down some rewards and then use dice to select your reward. You can only claim your reward once you've completed a task on your to-do list.

Assign Due Dates

Assigning due dates helps you keep track of what your work schedule looks like for the next week and gives you a sense of how each day will go. It's also important to assign due dates for long-term tasks with no set deadline. Just because a task doesn't have an official deadline doesn't mean it shouldn't get done. If you're struggling to come up with a due date for such tasks, then you might want to reconsider why that item is on your list in the first place.

Revise Your To-Do List Daily or Weekly

It's a good idea to write down your ideas as they come to you because that way, you never forget an item or lose track of your goals. However, the drawback of this method is that you can quickly end up with a very full to-do list. An excellent way to combat this is to revise your to-do list regularly. This should be a scheduled and non-optional activity that you do either every day or every week.

Try TimeCaptis App

If you're still writing your to-do lists down on paper, it might be time to try TimeCaptis, the leading task management app. TimeCaptis incorporates many of the tactics we've already discussed as well as unique additional features. Moreover, you can find TimeCaptis adapting to almost any working style. For example, you can set for a minimalist to-do list if you are easily distracted by big lists with many categories. On the other hand, if you prefer a full-fledged to-do management option with a comprehensive set of features (like team member task assignment, the ability to add media like documents and URLs, timelines, etc.), TimeCaptis will very much fit this scenario too.

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How to Best Manage To-Do Lists

It's not that to-do lists are inherently bad, but rather how we use them. Finding better ways of managing your to-do lists can help kick you into action, and ultimately, spark better results.