Work more productively with lists
Everyone knows them: to-do lists. There is probably no person who has never created and used a to-do list. The little helper can be extremely practical and lead to more success both in private life and in everyday work .
The to-do list is used when a mountain of tasks are pending and none of them must be forgotten. Tasks are better structured with the list , the day is organized into feasible steps and complexity is reduced.
Pros: This is why lists are effective
A to-do list provides a better overview and at the same time enables better time management . As soon as a to-do is done, it can be ticked off. Above all, this ensures a good feeling and motivates for the next task – because who doesn’t like to see tasks that have been ticked off instead of open ones.
Lists – whether analogue or digital – support self-organization , so that even chaotic working days are more efficient again and upcoming deadlines are met. We will show you why to-do lists only work with certain rules and which tools and templates are helpful. There are also tips for immediate implementation at hand.
Why are to-do lists so useful?
What a to-do list is doesn’t really need to be explained: all upcoming to-dos and tasks that need to be done for the day or week are listed on the list. It is suitable for everyone because it can be individually adjusted and still always has an effect: more clarity.
Written down, unfinished business no longer buzzes around in the head and at the same time cannot be forgotten. Thoughts about unfinished tasks can make it difficult to concentrate. To-do lists, on the other hand, focus on one task. Only when this is done can the next one be tackled.
Create a clear organizational structure
Every completed task increases motivation and brings new energy for the next one. Because on the one hand, the list is getting shorter and shorter – on the other hand, self-confidence increases because one thing is done again.
A to-do list becomes useful when it follows a clear organizational structure – namely when it improves one’s own time management and is structured according to relevance and deadline. The list also gives a rough overview of the effort – based on the number of tasks to be completed .
To-do list templates: Post-its, Word & Excel
A to-do list is traditionally created on paper – a pen and piece of paper or post-it make it possible to start immediately. Tabular lists in Excel or templates in Word or finished PDF lists that can be printed out are also popular . There are now many applications that allow creative design. At Pinterest , for example, many templates can be downloaded free of charge . With Canva, you can easily create your own list in the right format directly on your smartphone .
Although these lists can be created quickly , they are often not sufficient in everyday work, since tasks are not listed in relation to their priority or deadline. Changes and connections can only be represented with difficulty. Teams also like to use task and project management software to create a to-do list that is as efficient as possible and also provides support in the workplace .
5 tips for successful to-do lists
Although the to-do list is a simple tool, the implementation does not always work. Too many tasks can quickly become overwhelming and ultimately make the list useless . The following tips will help you to avoid common mistakes and show you what you should pay attention to when creating.
Tip 1: Plan tasks with effort
Too many tasks, too little time: A large number of tasks that cannot be completed in one day is overwhelming, leading to stress and dissatisfaction. In order to better estimate the number of tasks that fit into a working day, they should always be planned with effort.
The effort estimation gives you an overview of how many hours of your day are already occupied. In the digital tool, each task can be planned with a target time, for example.
Tip 2: Divide large tasks into several steps
Large tasks in particular often seem confusing and you don’t know exactly where to start? Complex tasks can be broken down into multiple steps . This gives you a better overview and you know where to start.
In a digital solution, this can be with the help of an extra checklist within a task, for example. The task becomes more manageable through the small steps and also brings quick success as well as more overview and order.
Tip 3: Plan for a buffer
Even the best (digital) to-do list gets frustrated when tasks don’t decrease – or even new ones are constantly added. Therefore, the following applies: plan for sufficient buffers. In most cases, expenses cannot be determined exactly, so that sufficient buffer times give you space between tasks and thus prevent stress.
Tip 4: Start with the hardest task
Large, unpopular tasks are often pushed far back and are then often left undone. But if you start with the most unpleasant task , the motivation for your remaining to-dos increases because the “worst” is finally done.
This method is called Eat the frog first and ensures that the most difficult task is already completed in the morning and that a feeling of success spreads.
Tip 5: Choose a tool with added value
Digital notes can be organized with the right tool. Apps like OneNote, Todoist or Microsoft are usually sufficient for a simple to-do list.