Thursday, March 26, 2009

How to work with "to-do" lists

A "to-do" list is one of the simplest, and most commonly used, scheduling tools. It captures all of the tasks that you need to carry out on a given day. Many people use to-do lists in combination with a weekly or monthly schedule, and many planners and computer calendars have to-do lists built in. The lists allow you to break down the tasks on your schedule as specifically as you require. For example, where your schedule might direct you to "return phone calls" at a certain time on Tuesday, your daily to-do list would likely detail each person you need to call.
An effective to-do list includes the following:

- tasks in priority order
- meetings you are scheduled to attend
- decisions you need to make
- information you are waiting for
- calls you need to make or expect to receive
- memos, letters, and e–mails you need to write
- any unfinished business.
Find a point in the day, possibly at the end of the day or first thing in the morning, to write down your to-do list. Periodically review your list as the issues of the day arise.

Here are some strategies for creating and using your list:

- Be realistic about how many things you can do. A rule of thumb is to include half the number of things you think you should be able to do.
- Include time required and completion date for each task.
- Don’t worry about putting items on the list in a particular order.
- Cross off each item as you complete it.
Save old lists in a box or drawer. You’ll enjoy seeing how much you’ve accomplished.

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