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Time Management Tips to Help Tackle Your To-Do List

to do listSome much to do; so little time. Isn’t that the current mantra of pretty much everyone everywhere? It doesn’t much matter your occupation or even if you’re not working (just ask any retiree and they will say, “I am as busy as I ever was,”) having a lot to do is simply our way of life. And as a result, we’re all in search of effective time management tips.

One of the best ways to stay organized and actually “execute” all of your to-do’s is to have a “to-do” list.  That’s right, maintaining a list, regardless of whether it is digital or old-fashioned pen and paper, can help you to be more productive both at home and in the office.

But “having” such a list is merely the first (yet crucial) step. We all know people that keep copious lists yet accomplish little, yes? Or make endless lists to which they never refer.

Alas it’s not so much “having” a list as managing the list correctly. In order to make the most of your to-do list, you must keep some proven time management tips in mind. Here are some tips from our NYC Professional Organizer on how to manage your to-do list for maximum efficiency and productivity:

  • For starters, let’s confirm that you actually HAVE a list. (You do, right?) Having a list means that you don’t have to devote important brainpower to actually “trying” to remember everything that you have to do. Record your to-do’s and focus your energies on tackling them, not on trying to remember that one really important task that needs to be done today.
  • Now make sure that you record your list using a method that is comfortable and suits your personal style. Our NYC Professional Organizer is quick to point out that forcing yourself to use a digital app when you are much more at ease with paper and pen only means that you will not be as successful as you wish. There’s no reason to automate if you don’t want to. The key is to make adding to the list very straightforward and not require excess time, as that would be incredibly counter-productive.
  • Big to-do’s can be overwhelming, as they are almost always comprised of multiple, smaller tasks. For example, “clean out closets” can be a monumental chore and should be broken down into smaller, bite-sized tasks such as “purchase garment or garbage bags,” “locate thrift stores and clothing recycling drops,” “open eBay account to sell clothes,” and so on. You might not be able to accomplish all of these steps in the first day and jumping into tackling the closets may be daunting if you haven’t lined up everything that you need to be productive.  (Need I say more?!)
  • Prioritize your to-do’s. This is one of our most essential time management tips. Not all tasks are of equal importance or urgency and let’s face it, IF you run out of time, some of them can easily be put off for another day. But others, not so much and since some to-do’s have a very specific timeline, you must tackle them first (whether you want to or not!). And keep your personal to-do’s separate from your work-related to-do’s.  That distinction alone will often drive the urgency and importance of the task.
  • And let’s face it, there are some things that we totally hate to do and find many reasons to procrastinate getting started. These tasks (and we all know what they are) should be done first thing in the morning so they can be crossed off the list.  Make certain that you don’t have them on your list yet NEVER get to them. You’re only kidding yourself by avoiding what needs to be done.
  • Yep, you don’t need our NYC Professional Organizer to tell you that crossing things off the list provides a great feeling of accomplishment.  Keep the list handy, cross off all to-do’s as you complete each task and review the list at the end of the day to see what has to trickle over to the next day. Impossible to complete your to-do’s? Are you are setting yourself up for a feeling of guilt and failure? Maintain a reasonable list and if you find that you are NEVER able to complete what needs to get accomplished think about the resources that are available to you (ex. outsourced bookkeeper, professional organizer, house cleaning service, virtual assistant….the list goes on and on!).

The key is to get comfortable with a list vs. leaving everything to memory or having reminder post-its adhered to just about every surface in your home or office. You might not be able to eliminate all that you have to do, but you CAN implement a few time management tips to organize and manage it.  Start now!

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