Set Yourself Up for Success:
Three Steps to a Productive Daily To-do List
There’s a difference between your ever-expanding general to-do list and your daily to-do list.
This to-do list is the one you write in the morning (or maybe the night before) to help ensure you have a productive day.
To set yourself up for success, you need to create a list that’s achievable, full of value and that will keep you feeling fulfilled and closer to your goals, whether they are in work or life.
Too often we get to the end of the day and feel as though we have failed because we haven’t achieved what’s on our list. But if that to-do list is unrealistic, it’s equally unrealistic that you’ll get much ticked off. Here are my tips on how to create a productive to-do list that’ll get rid of that feeling!
1. Content: what are you going to include on your list?
Establish what type of tasks are going on today’s list. Are they focused on work, family, or wellbeing? Often work and life are intertwined, especially when working from home (as so many of us are now), so it can be challenging to separate the two. Decide what’s going to be the most important for you day-by-day. Personally, I keep my list primarily work-focused, but also include one wellbeing task – tailor yours to your life.
2. Time: how much time do you have available?
Those of you who have worked with me before will be used to sectioning time into the different aspects of your life (work, family, me time etc) by colour, so you can easily see how much time is available to you that day for each area of life.
– Do think about what tasks are already set in stone (e.g. work meetings, appointments, the school run, etc.), and don’t include these on your daily to-do list, they’re for the diary only. (But don’t forget to put them in your diary either!) Work with the time around those obligations so that you don’t clog up your list with pre-arranged commitments.
– Don’t exceed over six tasks on the list. It’s important to be realistic with your time. Some days you may only have one or two tasks on your list, and others the full six – depending on how time consuming each task is.
– Don’t include menial errands that take two minutes (such as brushing your teeth, feeding the dog) or things you may do on a regular basis anyway, such as making dinner. Putting tasks like this on your list just to be able to tick them off isn’t helpful. It won’t contribute to your personal or business growth. It will add to your overwhelm!
– Do factor in your needs (eating, stretching your legs, taking breaks, showering, etc.) and the time these take up so you can work around them. Also give yourself a buffer in case a task runs over.
3. Priorities: what’s a priority to you today?
– If you have an imminent deadline, whether for work or home, that needs to be at the top of the list.
– Think about what you need to do over the coming week. Things that will bring in money or expand your business are important to have on the list. Prioritise them.
– Keep in mind how much time you’ve set aside for each area of your life, be realistic.
– What tasks are important for your own wellbeing? It’s essential that we maintain a healthy life / work balance.
Not overloading your list with tasks will ensure you’re not set up for failure or have unrealistic expectations of yourself. Of course, this is an ongoing learning exercise; life gets in the way and it will take time to know what to include to maximise your productivity – but with continued intention and practice, you’ll get better and better. Over time you will become more skilled, more informed and more accurate in creating your to-do list and figure out what works for you. Be kind to yourself, don’t worry if one task is taking longer than you thought – if it’s not deadline dictated, finish it before you move onto the next, don’t leave lots half done. Use your to-do list to reduce overwhelming feelings and help you feel on top of things, not the other way around!
For more tips, techniques and support to set yourself up for success, or to start improving your productivity and time management, join me in my free Facebook group ‘Productivity for Profit‘!