In our previous post, we delved into three key features of good time management: knowing how you are spending your time, transforming your activities and changing the way you do things.
In the second part of our series, I’m going to teach you a time-tested method of creating order in an otherwise chaotic world. This method is so simple, absolutely anyone can start using it today.
What is this excellent Time Management Super Tool?
The tool I’m talking about is . . .
Yes! And the simplicity of list-making is actually the basis of its power as a time management tool.
People already strapped for time need techniques that are easy to implement. Nothing is simpler and easier than building To-Do Lists! It’s also fun, not only when you create it, but especially when you get to cross off what you’ve accomplished!
Simple Guidelines for Maximum Results
Attention: Here is a sneak peek at the pro tips for building To-Do Lists. Just make sure the items on your list are realistic and accomplishable.
Super Tool Guideline #1: Create the Right To-Do Lists
There are three kinds of To-Do Lists, based on your tasks and time frames.
The first list is your Main To-Do List. It contains all the things you have to accomplish in both the short-term and long-term.
You can list as many things as you wish in your Main To-Do List because this list will be your resource for two other lists.
Your second To-Do List is your Day List.
Your Day List contains all the items that require your attention today.
All of the most urgent items in your Main To-Do List should be on your Day List, especially deadlines and stuff you weren’t able to finish in the past.
The third and final list is your Future List.
Your Future List contains the things you have to accomplish in the upcoming weeks or months.
If something is due 2 weeks from now, write it on your Future List. This keeps clutter off your Day List.
Super Tool Guideline #2: Prioritize Tasks from Your Main To-Do List
Your primary goal in creating these three lists is to set priorities.
The Main To-Do List is your general reference. From this, you gain perspective on the nature and time requirements of your tasks.
For each of the items, be sure to write down the time and date due.
Now, you can prioritize. From your Main list, assign items to their proper sub-list: Day List or Future List.
Also helpful: You can mark certain tasks with E1 or E2.
E1 means “super easy! will not take more than 10 minutes”
E2 stands for “enjoyable task!”
If you can think of additional notations to help you stay motivated, then by all means, add them to your Time Management Super Tool list!
Super Tool Guideline #3: Use Your Future List Wisely
Writing a Future List is a way to accommodate less urgent tasks, so you won’t forget to do them.
Your Future List also includes tasks you don’t have to accomplish today.
If you’re already budgeting your time, there’s no need to add more tasks to your Day List. You’ll get to them according to your schedule.
Warning: Beware of using your Future List for procrastination! INTERNAL LINK
Having a long Future List does not just mean you’re getting organized. Nor does it mean you’re managing your time well.
It just means you have a long list of tasks. It’s what you do after making your To-Do Lists that truly matters.
(H2) Where Can You Create Your Lists?
If you like the personal touch of pen and paper, like I do, you may prefer to physically write down your to-do items in a journal.
If you plan to write your lists on paper, I suggest you use a monthly planner. This will serve as an extension of your Future List and help you stay organized. It can be difficult to keep track of items on your Future List if you can’t see the days or weeks that lead up to each deadline.
Now, I am aware that not everyone likes keeping written journals and notebooks around. You may be more electronically-oriented.
No worry: There are some terrifically simple online tools you can use to create your Time Management Super Tool list to organize your time.
You can find numerous organization apps on the internet, such as Clear and Any.do, and the Microsoft to-do app. There is quite an assortment of To-Do List programs on iTunes and Google Play. My favorite, Trello, allows you to move your tasks around, like into a “Done” column when you complete a task. Freely explore possibilities to suit your preferences. Many of these are free!
Some apps allow task sharing through email and through an in-app messaging system, but these are not as essential as the first set of features I mentioned.
Now, if you don’t want to download another app, you can check out your current calendar app to see if it has a list feature. All varieties of apps are available for smartphone, tablet, or desktop.
NOTE: Your choice of a good to-do app should allow you
- to make an unlimited number of to-do items
- to add sub-lists
- to note a time and date for each item.
All said, I can almost guarantee you that you’ll find an extra little dose of stress relief every time you cross off an item on your To-Do List! I always find myself smiling when I do this.
Listen: In Part 3 of our series on Time Management, you will learn the professional’s Best Practices in list-making. These will ensure your Time Management Super Tool lists are absolutely effective and fun to use. See you there!