Efficient to do list

15 Secrets for Making a To-Do List That Actually Works [2022] • Asana


Everyone loves checking things off a to-do list—but if it’s not done right, your to-do list can cause more harm than good. In this article we offer concrete tips to help you set your to-do’s up for success, including how to effectively capture, organize, and prioritize tasks. Read on to take your own list to the next level, so you can stop worrying about misplaced notes and start checking things off.

A to-do list is just a list of things you have to-do. That means basically anything and everything can be on your to-do list—but just because you’ve written your to-dos down doesn’t mean your to-do list is actually useful. Effectively tracking when your work is due can help you prioritize and get great work done. But too often, that list of work to-dos is disorganized and disconnected from the actual work you’re doing—which leads to less clarity and more work about work.

The good news is, writing a to-do list doesn’t have to be an exercise in futility. Take control of your to-dos with these 15 secrets for making a to-do list that actually works.

First thing’s first: Say goodbye to the written to-do list

If you haven’t already, the first step for creating a to-do list that actually works is to build it in a to-do list app. Written to-do lists provide the wonderfully satisfying feeling of crossing something off, but they’re also the worst way to keep track of your to-dos. The truth of the matter is, a written to-do list is disorganized, prone to mistakes, easy to lose, and ineffective.

Instead, get started with a to-do list app. Unlike a written to-do list, the benefits of a to-do list app include:

  • Sorting and prioritizing work. If you want to change the order of your written to-do list, you have to rewrite the whole thing. But with a to-do list app, you can easily drag and drop items. Not only that—most to-do list apps offer a way to track priority with custom tags.

  • Impossible to lose.  Unlike a handwritten to-do list, you can’t “lose” an online to-do list. You’ll always have access to the list, so you can jot down to-dos wherever you are.

  • Add additional context to your to-dos. Most to-do list apps offer a way for you to add additional information in the description. In a written to-do list, all you have are a couple of words to describe what you need to work on. But with a to-do list app each to-do has an expandable description, where you can add any relevant task details, working docs, or important information.

  • Create separate lists in the same place. Before you choose a to-do list app, make sure you can create more than one “list” in the app. You might want to create a to-do list for personal work, another for your team’s work, and a third for your professional development, for example. A to-do list app with multiple list options allows you to store all of these to-dos in one place.

  • Set due dates, reminders, and notifications.  Your to-dos don’t mean much if they’re not done in time. With a to-do list app, you can track when work is due, and set up reminders or notifications to make sure you get your to-dos done in time.

  • Collaboration. When your individual to-do list is organized and your priorities are clear, you can better contribute to team projects and initiatives. In other words, the more organized you are, the easier it’ll be to collaborate with your team.

Create a weekly to-do list template

If you’re looking for a to-do list app, try Asana. Asana is a work management tool designed to help you organize your work so you know exactly what to do, why it matters, and how to get it done. Use Asana to track your work and connect it back to larger projects, loop in teammates, and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

15 secrets for a better to-do list

If you’re ready to take your to-do list to the next level, try these 15 tips to maximize your clarity and reduce inefficiencies. Note that most of these tips assume you’re using a to-do list app to organize your work and increase productivity.

1. Capture everything

It’s better to write something down and mark it as complete later than to forget what you wanted to do in the first place. Oftentimes, some of our best brainstorming come when we’re not prepared to write them down—but inspiration doesn’t wait to strike. If you have a passing thought about something you could do to improve a project or a great idea to pitch to your boss, simply add it to your to-do list.

This is also why it’s important to choose a to-do list app with a great mobile experience. That way, if you’re on the go, you can jot down a note without having to remember it until you get back to your computer.

Reducing the reliance on the human brain and memory makes life easier for your future self. Asana helps us decrease cognitive load for people and provide clarity.”

—Amy Nelson, CEO, Venture for America


Lists, lists, and more lists

One of the reasons to-do lists get so overwhelming is they tend to contain a random mishmash of everything. You might be working on multiple projects at work, and trying to store a reminder to review your upcoming campaign brief next to a note about sourcing vendors for an event can get confusing—fast. No wonder you’re feeling overwhelmed.

To take control of your to-do list and get your best work done, consider making more than one list. For example, make sure each project or large initiative has its own list. Additionally, consider creating one list for work that’s immediately actionable, another for future project ideas, and a third for personal reminders. That way, you can open the to-do list that’s relevant to the work you’re doing right now, in order to better focus on what you need to get done.

Create a weekly to-do list template

3. Organize your to-do list by workflow, priority, or due date

Re-organizing your to-do list every day is a waste of time—even if it is sometimes fun. Resist the temptation by creating a really great structure to your to-do list. If your app supports it, consider building sections for different types of work. That way, you can sort work by project or priority, depending on your preferences.

4. Make it actionable

Your to-do list is not the place to store thoughts or goals. Those details are important to capture, but if you keep everything in one to-do list your important work might get lost or buried. Instead, aim to capture those items in a project management tool or goal management system. That way, you still have access to all of your one-off thoughts and important goals, without cluttering your to-do list.

Even though it's important to store thoughts and goals separately from your main, actionable to-do list, having to switch between muliple tools can get overwhelming, fast. Instead, look for a way to capture all of this information in the same tool, like Asana.

5. Verbs first, details later

In addition to making sure every to-do is actionable, we recommend starting most to-do titles off with a verb. While this isn’t a make-or-break rule, starting to-dos with a verb will help you know exactly what each to-do is about.

For example, the to-do Three Facebook ad images, doesn't tell you much. If you add “design” to the front of the to-do title, all of a sudden the to-do is actionable and clear: Design three Facebook ads images. To-do lists with verb titles give you at-a-glance insight into what’s on your plate.

6. Prioritize your to-dos

In order to make sure you get the right work done on time, it’s important to know which of your to-dos are most important. Whether you put the most important to-dos at the top or use custom tags to flag priority, make sure you have visibility into your critical work, so you don’t miss anything.

Read: How to prioritize your most important work

That isn’t to say you have to do your most important work first. Sometimes, starting the day off with an easy task is the best way to get the ball rolling. Or maybe you live by the 80/20 rule, which says you can complete 80% of your work in 20% of the time, and you like getting those out of the way. Even if you don’t do your high priority work first, make sure you know what you need to do before the day is out.

I used to come home, put my son to bed at eight, and then I would be on my email until midnight, trying to fundamentally sort through chains and what was happening. And now, I literally can blast through my Asana because I know exactly what’s important.”

—Brynn Putnam, CEO, Mirror

7. Always include a deadline

When it comes to hitting your to-dos, you don’t just need to know what to do—you also need to know when to do it by. Finishing all of your important tasks doesn’t mean much if they’re finished on the wrong day. In other words, you always need to know who’s doing what by when. Even if you don’t have a hard deadline, it’s better to jot down a date and move it than miss the deadline all together.

8. Break big work into smaller tasks

One of the biggest struggles with accurately hitting your to-dos is seeing something that’s due tomorrow but then realizing, “Woah, this is actually a week’s worth of work.

If you frequently run into this problem, consider breaking work into smaller tasks. Maybe your work isn’t due until Friday, but it’s a big task that’s going to take multiple days to complete. Having that work broken up into to-dos you can complete earlier on in the week will be critical to your project’s success.

Asana allowed us to see the overall amount of work that we were actually doing, and then it allowed us to be able to reprioritize and re-strategize the types of work that we were doing.”

—Carla De Ciccio, Content Strategist, Telfer School of Management

9. Batch similar tasks

When you work in batches, you’re not only hitting your to-dos—you’re also increasing your productivity. Every time you switch tasks or start on a new project, your brain needs some time to adjust and recalibrate. The truth is, humans aren’t actually good at multitasking, so the more to-dos you can group together, the easier it’ll be on your brain.

In particular, look out for daily work that you could batch and simplify. If there are things you do every day, you probably don’t even think about how long you’re spending on them—but that time can really add up. If you have daily tasks, take note of how long they’re actually taking you. Then, see if you can be more efficient with them. Can you batch them or automate them? Removing this work not only cleans up your to-do list, but makes you more productive.

10. Celebrate your progress

Every time you check something off your to-do list, you’ve accomplished something. That’s a big deal! You should celebrate, even if it’s only a little pat on the back.

At Asana, one of our core company values is heartitude—a made up word, sure, but one that’s near and dear to our hearts. Heartitude means taking time to have fun and create meaningful experiences during your working day. If you’ve ever used Asana, you might see unicorns and yetis fly across your screen when you mark a to-do complete. Why? The real question is—why not?

Asana's features, like unicorns flying across the screen when you complete a task, make work less of a ‘have to’ and more like a fun experience.

—Joe Moran, Director of Content Operations, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson Research

11. Triage your list at the end of the day

Instead of spending half of your morning combing through your to-do list, organize your tasks the night before so, when you log on, you already know exactly what’s on the docket. By spending five to 10 minutes the night before, you can make sure you’re ready to take on the day immediately the next morning.

Create a weekly to-do list template

12. Turn off notifications

Notifications are a huge benefit to getting good work done, and any good to-do list app will have notifications to spare. What’s equally important, though, is a “snooze” or Do Not Disturb feature. Ultimately, you’re organizing your work so you can be more productive—and sometimes that means you need to focus, instead of being distracted by a random ping.

Distractions are costly, so we've focused on eliminating them wherever we can. With Asana, people are able to get into a flow and do their work without disruption because everyone knows where things stand and what they're responsible for—no stand up required.”

—Russell Benaroya, Co-founder and Partner, Stride

Read: 7 tips for finding focus and reducing digital distractions

13. Track what you don’t need to do

You don’t want to sink time into unimportant work. So while you always want to capture details in your to-do list, it’s also important to cull it when necessary.

If you’re tracking to-do priority, you already have insight into what’s most and least important. Then, if necessary, don’t be afraid to deprioritize work. Tracking your to-dos isn’t about doing every little thing every single day—it’s about getting control of your tasks so you can get your most important work done.

14. Watch for stragglers

We all have those tasks that were due last week that we still haven’t gotten around to doing yet. But if you notice those tasks, ask yourself why they haven’t been done. What’s keeping you from them? Do you need to reprioritize them, or delegate them to someone else? Is there something about the task that you don’t understand that’s holding you back? Knowing why you’re delaying can help you be more efficient and nip those stragglers in the bud.

15. Collaborate on one platform

Ideally, you don’t want to track your to-dos in a vacuum. Being organized and prioritized is only so helpful if you don’t have visibility into your team’s work—and vice versa. The most effective teams are those that share a central source of truth for where work is happening. That way, everyone knows exactly who’s responsible for which tasks, and you can focus on getting your best work done as a team.

Naturally, we think Asana is a pretty good way to do this. With Asana, your team can organize what to do, why it matters, and how to get it done. That way, you’re not the only one benefiting from increased clarity and reduced inefficiencies.

Check “learn how to make a to-do list” off the list

Making a to-do list is about getting organized and gaining visibility into your work—and with these 15 tips, you’ll do just that. But if you’re looking to make a to-do list to track work, you also need a way to give and gain visibility into your team members’ work. Look for a to-do list that offers additional robust features like task management and project management.

Create a weekly to-do list template

Get More Done: Try These 10 Simple Tips for Better To-Do Lists

How effective is your to-do list? Does it help you plan your day? Does it nudge you to prioritize the right tasks? Or is it a never-ending list of things you feel guilty for not having done yet and now you're not going to do any of them? A good to-do list should serve you. You should not be at its mercy. 

The best to-do lists set you off in the right direction each day and help you focus on the tasks that are most important. With the right strategies, a to-do list can help you achieve larger goals, too. Here's what you need to know to make your to-do list work for you.

(Photo: Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash)


Choose the Right App...or Paper

The first step in making a better to-do list is deciding where to keep it. It's important that you love the app or notebook you use for your to-do list, otherwise you might not stick with it.

Notice how I said "notebook?" While there are many benefits to putting your to-do list into an app (and I'll list them in a moment), there is nothing wrong with paper! If paper works for you, great. Likewise, a simple spreadsheet or word processing document is fine, too. Use the tool that works for you.

Digital to-do lists have several advantages over paper, however, and it's good to at least know what they are. Digital to-do lists:

  • are easy to edit, which means you can update information quickly,

  • have built-in reminders,

  • are hard to lose because the list itself is usually saved in the cloud,

  • can sort your tasks by priority, due date, or alphabetically, and

  • let you assign tasks to other people and get notified when they complete them

If you are in the market for a to-do list app, which one is best? Having tested dozens of them, I tend to recommend Todoist, Asana, and Things more often than others. But there are many other options. OmniFocus is good for people who add a lot of detail to their tasks. Trello speaks to visually driven people. Some people like Google Tasks for its integration with other Google apps and services. Habitica might draw your attention if you like gamification. And so on.

Top Tips for Staying Productive When You Work From Home

2. Make More Than One List

You need more than one to-do list.

You should have a few lists that cover the major categories of your life, such as Work, Personal, and Household. Having more than one list helps you focus. When you're working, you don't want to be distracted by your personal list. When you're grocery shopping, you don't want to be burdened thinking about your work responsibilities.

Don't hold back. Make lists for everything you think of! The useful ones will stick around. Anything that isn't useful you can scrap. 

Some other ideas are to make lists called:

  • Shopping with your shopping list,

  • Someday, where you write down unimportant tasks that you might do someday,

  • Weekend for anything you want to do on the weekend but don't want to be distracted by during the week,

  • Chores for Kids, and

  • Gift Ideas for saving ideas all year long about what you might buy your family and friends on the next gift-giving occasion.

You can add new lists or rename them at any time. You are never stuck with the lists you create.

Our Top-Rated To-Do List Apps

3. Write Down Your Tasks as Soon as You Think of Them

When a new task pops into your head, write it down as quickly as possible. People sometimes assume the reason is to make sure you don't forget, but really, writing down tasks quickly prevents you from dwelling on them. Once it's written down, you don't need to remember it anymore, so you can purge the thought from your brain and think more important thoughts.

If your to-do app has a keyboard shortcut for adding a new task, learn it. If your app has a mobile phone shortcut, set it up.

For those using paper, keep a bit of scrap paper near you while you work to jot down distracting thoughts quickly. Later when it's convenient, you can copy them into your official to-do lists neatly.

Adding due dates to tasks in your Asana to-do list helps you prioritize.

Any time a task has a due date, add it. Seeing when tasks are due helps you prioritize.

Not every task needs a hard and fast due date, but sometimes it helps to add one anyway for two reasons.

First, most to-do apps let you see what's due today, tomorrow, and later in the week, regardless of which list they're in. This way, you can see everything due today and get a sense of how the day will go. You might also take a moment to reschedule some tasks if you're feeling overwhelmed just looking at everything due within the next week.

Second, by assigning due dates to your tasks, you're effectively planning out your week, which is an excellent time-management strategy.

5. Revise Your To-Do Lists Daily

Start every day by throwing an eye over your task list and assessing whether it's reasonable. Then, revise it.

If you have too many tasks scheduled for the day and you know you won't get to them all, you're setting yourself up for failure.

6. Limit Yourself to 3–5 Tasks per Day

What is your daily task limit? It depends on what kinds of tasks you write down and how difficult they are to complete. 

For most people, I recommend starting out by limiting yourself to three to five tasks per day. It might not sound like a lot, but if you focus on writing down the three most important things you need to do today, you might find that's already a lot to get through.

Why not write down more? If you write down too many tasks and don't get to them all, then you must defer them to another day. That means re-prioritizing and changing your list, which is unnecessary work that causes stress and can feel self-defeating.

By having a small number of tasks, you're more likely to finish them. The more you finish all your tasks, the better you'll feel about your to-do lists overall. That positive feeling can fuel you going forward.

Your three to five tasks should be important things that you must do. And no more than two of them should be routine tasks, like taking daily medication. Focus on your intention for the day. That's what you should write down.

Over time, track how many tasks you check off each day (the best to-do apps track it for you) and you'll get a sense of the right number of tasks for you, in case it's not three to five.

Todoist tracks how many tasks you complete each day and week, and creates a chart showing your progress.

7. Put Tasks on Your To-Do List, Not Goals

What you write on your to-do list matters. Put tasks on your lists, rather than objectives and goals. To do that, you need to know the difference between them.

Goals are big-picture achievements or desired outcomes. They're usually difficult to quantify. An example is "become fluent in Hindi." Putting that on your to-do list wouldn't be very effective.

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Objectives are markers on the way to reaching a goal. It's much easier to confuse these with tasks because objectives are more specific and quantifiable. An example of an objective is "be able to hold a conversation in Hindi about my favorite movies for three minutes."

So what are tasks? Tasks are the actions you take to reach an objective. Break an objective down and you have your tasks. Very often they're single events (though they can repeat). A task might be "learn three new Hindi verbs" or "read Hindi for 30 minutes."

Tasks—not goals or objectives—are what belong on a daily to-do list.

8. Keep Goals and Objectives Separate

In a perfect world, many of the tasks you get done each day will be in pursuit of a bigger goal. You should know what your goals are, but you don't need to write them on your daily to-do list.

Instead, write your goals and objectives somewhere else. It might still be in your to-do list app or notebook, but not on the list that you look at each day. Other places you can write down goals are your journal or a note-taking app.

Refer to your goals from time to time. Check in on them and revise them. Just don't let them distract you from the specific things you need to do today.

9. Look at Your To-Do List Often

A looked-at list is a used list. An effective to-do list guides you throughout your day, which means you need to look at it often. Look at it each morning to mentally prepare for the day ahead. Look at it after lunch so you know what else you need to focus on for the rest of the day. Revise it at the end of the day to reschedule tasks you missed.

Make a habit of looking over everything you have planned for the coming week in advance so that you can better plan your time and make adjustments.

During the day, if you start to feel lost in what you're doing or need a break from it, look at your to-do list for something small and easy (a less demanding task that doesn't require high focus) that you can tackle in the meantime.

The more you look at your list, the more you'll trust it. The more you trust it, the less you have to remember what tasks you must do. The less you have to remember, the more you free your mind to focus on the task at hand.

10. Make Your To-Do List Scannable

If you look at your to-do list often, you'll quickly realize how helpful it is to see what you need at a glance.

Use tight language or shorthand to write your tasks. Many apps have priority ratings, stars, tags, and other details that you can add to important tasks to make them stand out. Color-code your tasks if that helps. Apply icons that give you more information about the task, such as whether it requires a phone call or is related to healthcare. No matter how quickly you look at your to-do list, you should be able to reap a lot of information about what needs to get done.

Check Those Boxes

A great to-do list is at the heart of personal productivity. It's such a joy to find a task-management app and process that works for you. Checking off items on your list gives you a feeling of accomplishment and is a key element of getting organized. A reliable to-do system makes life both easier and less stressful.

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90,000 The Perfect To-Do List: How to Make and Follow. 10 Rules


© Сathryn Lavery/Unsplash

Author Irina Rudevich

August 04, 2020

Coaches are advised to make lists to stay productive and achieve goals. At the same time, it is not enough just to write out upcoming meetings and classes in a column. We tell you how to make a list that will help you become more effective.

Do not write too much

At first glance, it's simple: write down everything you need to do. “I don’t like to-do lists because they get so overwhelming that they scare you and you don’t want to look at them,” says Julia Morgenstern, organization and productivity expert and author of Time Management. The art of planning and managing your time and your life. To create an effective list, she advises to mention only what you are really ready to work on. Do not mention in it random and unimportant tasks, as well as obviously impossible tasks that you do not want to devote time to yet. For example, you should not set the goal of doing spring cleaning in the schedule of an active working day full of meetings. nine0003

© Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

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Monitor progress

List up to ten tasks per day. There may be three, six or even one. It is important to single out the main task that will be a priority: it must be completed in any case, the rest are secondary, but the order is not important. Imagine, and if necessary, write down how long it takes to complete each item. It is not necessary to start the morning with the main task. Roy Baumeister, professor of psychology at the University of Queensland and co-author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Power, suggests starting with a few simple things to take them off the list and feel the satisfaction of ticking and progressing. nine0003

Break tasks down into subtasks

“Renovating the kitchen” sounds complicated, even if it's a three-month plan. The brain has a hard time navigating the task, and you are depriving it of fueling the joy of a completed task, which can stretch for a long time. Try to write out subparagraphs for global goals. For example: sell old furniture, take measurements, choose and buy tiles, see color options. So you will have small feasible tasks for each day, the implementation of which will systematically lead to the intended goal. nine0003

Integrate tasks into the calendar

It is useful to hang the main list in a prominent place to record each new task in it. But it’s better not just to record things in a notebook, but to do it in a diary with the date and day of the week. So you can systematize the information and roughly imagine the workload and prospects. Thus, the list turns into an action plan, especially if you allocate a specific time period for each task.

© Christin Hume/Unsplash

Set a deadline

Clear deadlines motivate you to work faster and more carefully on a task. At work, they are associated with the end of a project, the day of a presentation, or an important meeting, while personal matters often remain without a time reference. And if you need to get a visa strictly before going on vacation, then learning a foreign language can take years if you do not devote enough time to the goal. Try to set a due date for the task, no matter how important it is. It is possible that sometimes you will have to push back the deadlines, but it is better not to get carried away with this. In this case, task managers come in handy - programs with a reminder function of the remaining time. nine0003

Break tasks into groups

Classify each task by purpose, eg family, friends, work, self-development. So you can track which areas of your life do not have enough attention, and which you spend too much time on. It is better to devote time to blocks one by one, rather than switching from work tasks to activities with children and vice versa, this reduces engagement and efficiency.

Make a list of things you don't need

If you often don't have time to do important things, try doing the opposite: write down activities that don't add value. This helps track where minutes and hours go, allocate resources and rethink processes. For example, it's worth spending a little time automating repetitive tasks, including using programs and applications. Perhaps you spend a lot of time looking for dinner recipes, and it would be more convenient to subscribe to a food blog with a selection updated daily. Creating an anti-list is a good psychological relief, allowing you to determine what exactly distracts your attention and steals time. It does not have to be updated weekly: it is enough to spend a few minutes a month on unnecessary tasks. nine0003

Fight procrastination

It's easy to get distracted, especially if you work on the Internet and also from home. An extra random tab in the browser - and now, instead of statistics for a report, you are studying a travel article and forwarding topical memes to colleagues. Procrastination is a common occurrence. Sometimes it's good to take a break and take a break from hard work, but it's important to get back to business without wasting too much time. Observe yourself (keeping a diary will help) and evaluate how often you are distracted and by what. Awareness of what is happening will help develop ways to deal with the problem. nine0003

© Drew Coffman/Unsplash

Try the Pomodoro Technique

The method was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the early 1990s and got its name from the tomato timer he used. The main task is to divide all tasks into 25-minute intervals, in which it is easiest to completely immerse yourself in work. This is useful if you cannot estimate in advance how long a task will take, and at the same time worry that you are missing other important questions. 25 minutes is a short time, messages in the messenger can wait. After each working interval, you should take a break for five minutes. After four "pomodoros", the author of the technique advises to pause for 20-30 minutes. nine0003

Reward yourself for accomplishments

Design rewards based on the difficulty of a task or a closed block of multiple tasks. A sense of completion is a good reward, so for simple daily tasks, a checkmark in the list will be enough to motivate you to move on. For example, if you have been following a healthy diet all week, then you can eat your favorite dessert on Sunday as a bonus. Completion of major projects requires an appropriate reward: whether it be a long-awaited purchase, a pleasure trip or a vacation. The reward system creates a powerful motivation that will help you not to give up and move towards your goal. nine0003

8 myths about motivation that prevent you from moving forward .

12 tips on how to keep a to-do list

You probably already make to-do lists so you don't forget anything important. But do you always have enough time to complete all the tasks from the list?

We've put together 12 tips for you on how to plan your day the right way, thereby increasing your productivity and making the most of your time.

1) Use application

Although some of us prefer the old-fashioned way of using a diary or sticking notes on a monitor, it is difficult to keep such a list at hand all the time. In addition, you can accidentally leave the diary at home and forget something important because of this.

Most task manager apps can sync across all your devices, so you'll always have access to your to-do list, not only at work, but also while on a business trip or in a meeting.

There are many task managers in the app market with different features and interfaces, so you can choose the app you like. You might like something from the list 9best task managers according to Forbes. Among them there are both paid and free applications, so pay attention to the descriptions and screenshots.

Personally, we like Todoist because of its simple and intuitive interface.

2) Plan your day in advance

Plans for the next day are best made the night before. Thanks to this, you can start completing tasks right in the morning without spending too much time thinking and prioritizing, and so the list of outstanding tasks will shrink faster. nine0003

Try to take 10 minutes each evening to plan out tomorrow. Use a calendar or planner and set aside enough time for each task. If there is not enough time for all tasks, review your list and re-prioritize.

It's good to take notes during the day about what you want to do tomorrow. In the evening, sort these notes and add them to your calendar.

3) Separate work and personal life.

In today's technology world, separating work and personal life can be difficult, so it's important to find a balance. It's not very useful to worry about taking the cat to the vet or picking up a down jacket from the dry cleaner at work, just as it's not very appropriate to think about marketing campaigns or the presentation that you need to do during dinner with family or friends. Monday. As a result, your productivity and focus may decrease, and your stress levels may rise. nine0003

Separate personal and work tasks on your to-do list. Many task managers allow you to create separate lists, but if you keep unwittingly looking at your work list at home or your personal list at work, you can try different applications.

There are other options for balancing work and personal life. For interesting ideas, see the resource "How to keep a daily routine: 20 rules from geniuses"

4) Make a list of what not to do

If you often don't have enough time to complete all the tasks on your to-do list, try making a to-do list. Analyze everything you do and try to give up things that do not bring much benefit.

Ask yourself some questions about how you spend your time at work. What do you spend the most time on? How do certain things change your life? Are these things good for your career? And for personal life? Make a list of things that are not useful, not feasible, or just wasting your time. nine0003

For example:

- Do not make an appointment with everyone who asks for it

- Do not do manually what can be automated

- Don't spend too much time on the little things (like choosing the right font for the title)

Creating such a list is a good mental exercise that will help you get rid of things that waste your time and distract your attention. Of course, such a list does not need to be compiled regularly - it is enough to update it a couple of times a year. nine0003

If you don't have inspiration yet, you can copy a few items from here or here to your list.

5) Make your to-do list available to others

There are several reasons for this. First, this way you will be more responsible. If you know that your co-workers or acquaintances have access to your to-do list, you are more likely to try to better prioritize and set realistic goals. It will also motivate you to complete your plans on time. nine0003

Secondly, this is necessary if you are working on the same task with your business partner or team. Some apps (we use Asana at Chatra, but Basecamp is also a great tool) allow you to split tasks into subtasks and assign each subtask to the right person. With apps like this, you can keep your colleagues updated on your progress, as well as leave comments if you need to discuss or clarify something.

6) Reserve time on the calendar

If you use an application that allows your colleagues or clients to access your calendar, and also allows them to add tasks to it or set appointments, you should reserve blocks of time during which you can get down to business without any distractions. for something else.

Need to sketch out a speech plan? Reserve a few hours in the afternoon or in the morning. You have a meeting with an important client, and you want to clarify some information in advance? Reserve half an hour before the meeting. nine0003

Craig Jarrow, author of Time Management Ninja, once booked almost half the time on his calendar in Outlook and put a task in each block that he needed to complete. As a result, the week turned out to be incredibly productive. Thanks to time management, he avoided invitations to impromptu meetings, was able to fulfill his obligations, and did not allow others to distract him.

Tip from Time Management Ninja: Use only one calendar. You can use different colors for personal and work tasks, but there should be only one calendar if you don't want to miss anything important. nine0062

7) Group tasks

Multitasking is a myth. Even if it seems to you that you can easily cope with several tasks at the same time, research shows that our brains are not capable of this. It does not perform tasks at the same time, but simply quickly switches between them.

Suppose you are answering letters while listening to music. Try typing the answer and being aware of the lyrics at the same time - it will most likely be quite difficult. And every time you switch between being aware of the music and thinking about the answer, one process in your brain stops and another starts. This affects us negatively: because of this switching, we waste time (albeit microseconds) and energy, work less efficiently and risk making more mistakes. nine0003

Perhaps you are often distracted during your work day - in addition to working on your main priority task, you check your mail, answer calls and messages, listen to voice mail, etc. To increase your productivity, try grouping similar tasks together.

A few examples of things to group:

  • E-mail. Check your email and reply to emails once or twice a day instead of replying to them all at once (unless you're in support, of course). For example, allocate time for this before lunch and in the evening. nine0161
  • Phone calls. Write down somewhere the contacts of all the people you need to call, and once a day make all the necessary calls in one go. You can choose the time yourself, but it is better to exclude lunch hours.
  • Tasks. When you have important tasks that are somehow related to each other, it is better to do them all at once, one after the other.
  • Planning. Set aside a few hours to think about and plan for your next big goal or idea. nine0161
  • Tracking information. It's easy to get hooked on data validation and constantly check your site's statistics or monthly revenue figures. Allocate separate time for this and check the data once a week or month.

8) Set a due date for a task

Have you ever had an important task that did not have a specific time frame, and you put it off “until later” until the task became urgent?

Set deadlines for each task on your to-do list, especially for important tasks. Try to set specific dates, because if you extend the execution time once, you will most likely extend it again. It is better to keep all dates in one place. This is where task managers come in handy - almost all such applications have the ability to sort by due dates, making it easier for you to prioritize. nine0003

Breaking down tasks into subtasks is also useful here, because you can set deadlines for each subtask, and thanks to this you will be more clearly aware of what steps you need to take to achieve the goal. Even if you fail to complete the task on time, learn from your mistakes and avoid similar things in the future.

9) Get rid of things that distract you and fight procrastination

Modern technology allows us (and sometimes even encourages) to be constantly online, so it's quite easy to get distracted from work. You start working on a task, and suddenly you get a notification that your friend has tagged you in a photo, you briefly open a page on the social network, and suddenly realize that five hours have passed, and you are watching another cat video. nine0003

We all experience procrastination from time to time. To combat it, there are special applications that will not let you be distracted from work. You can decide how strict it should be - some applications simply count the time you spend on social networks or on other "unproductive" sites, and some applications can completely block access to such sites. Here are some apps you can try:

RescueTime is a shareware app for Windows that can count how much time you spend on different activities and show you statistics. You can set personal goals and indicate what activities are "productive" for you. For example, if you work in design, then visiting Behance and working in photo editors is part of the workflow, not a distraction. If you have a Mac, you can try the Thyme timer. nine0003

Go F*cking Work is a free Chrome extension that will curse every time you visit a site that distracts you.

Freedom is an app for iPhone, iPad, Mac and Windows that allows you to block certain websites or completely block your internet connection for a certain amount of time. The subscription starts at $2.42 per month, but they have a free 7-day trial. so you can quickly find the information you need and get back to work. You can also specify "free time" during which all restrictions are turned off. nine0003

If you don't want to use apps, just try putting your phone on airplane mode.

10) Try the tomato technique

The tomato technique (Pomodoro) was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the early 90s. The technique got its name from the fact that Francesco, then a student at an Italian university, used a tomato-shaped timer to keep track of his work. The method is quite simple: when you have a task or a series of tasks, you need to break the work into short blocks of time (25 minutes) separated by small pauses (5 minutes). Such segments are called "tomatoes". nine0003

Start a timer or use a special application and immerse yourself in the task for 25 minutes. Try not to be distracted by calls or notifications. If you suddenly remember that you need to do something else, write it down on a piece of paper and continue working. When the timer counts down to 25 minutes and beeps, take a break - warm up, make yourself a cup of coffee, meditate, or do something else relaxing that is not related to work. And start a new Pomodoro. After every 4 “tomatoes”, take a long pause of 20-30 minutes. nine0003

We love the Pomotodo app, but feel free to use another app you like better. There are quite a few of them - from simple timers for a browser or phone to specialized tools.

This technique has many advantages. First, it visually demonstrates how much time and effort is required for a certain task, so you can roughly imagine how many Pomodoros a similar task will take. Secondly, this way you will be less distracted - a rare message is so important that it cannot wait 25 minutes. nine0003

The Pomodoro Technique also improves the quality of your work—usually during one Pomodoro you are working on one task, and you will most likely have extra time to check for errors and “sleek” the work. In addition, if you regularly divide your work time into "pomodoros", it will become a habit, and it will be much easier for you to meet deadlines and complete everything on time.

11) Reward yourself for completing tasks

Of course, crossing a task off your to-do list can be fun in and of itself, but sometimes we need extra motivation in order to focus on work. Especially if you're doing something you don't like. Then it's time to come up with a reward system!

For example, after completing each task, you can afford to visit your favorite website, eat or drink something tasty, or watch an interesting video. You can even try paying yourself every time you complete a particularly difficult project. For example, you can open a savings account at the bank, or deposit money into your Steam account, or buy gift cards from your favorite store. Depending on the trouble and the difficulty of the task, you can decide how much money you pay yourself. nine0003

When you complete a very big and important project, reward yourself accordingly - go on a short trip, take your family or friends to a trendy restaurant, or do something you've been wanting to do for a long time - like signing up for a master class. a cooking class, go for a wine tasting, or treat yourself to a trip to the spa. Soon you will even begin to enjoy difficult tasks, as you will associate them with rewards.

12) Control the room temperature

Research shows that office temperature affects our productivity. Workers who had to work in a cold room made 44% more mistakes, and their productivity was almost halved.

In addition, the cold workers were constantly distracted, and their productivity decreased by an additional 10% every hour. When we are cold, we use energy to heat the body, so there is less energy left for concentration, understanding and inspiration.

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