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Top Tips for 'To Do List' Management

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 29 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
To Do List Management Structure Tasks

Once you have mastered the effective management of your 'To Do' list, you will find that your day to day organisation of your workload is improved.

Writing a 'To Do' list can be rather daunting as it seems as though you have far too much to do and far too little time to do it in.

The best way to make your 'To Do' list work for you is to establish a routine and prioritise your tasks.

If your 'To Do' list is private - a desk based book for your own reference or an online resource, rather than a public list that your manager checks everyday - it can be helpful to include personal appointments or tasks, such as birthdays and doctors appointments.

Where to Start?

Start by writing your list on a separate piece of paper, rather than the book you will use- include every scrap of paper you have made notes on, every scheduled meeting and every project you are involved with. A useful partner to the 'To Do' list is a diary and notebook, to be cross checked each day and used for important number or websites. This will stop you finding key details lurking on a sweet wrapper in the bottom of your bag, or trying to keep too many 'must remember' facts in your head - very stressful.

Don't worry - this part only needs to be done once and then you will be able to manage your 'To Do' list far more effectively from now on.

Once you have a rather scary list of every task you are aware of, you can work at getting it into a more manageable format.

Break it Down

Firstly, think of the 'must do' tasks - those things that have to be done today, should have been done yesterday or meetings to attend today. These go at the top of the list. A good habit to get into is to either write a new list each day or each week at the very least (a hard backed 'black and red' book is good for this). There is no point having a list with loads of notes scribbled and crosses through. The other option would be to keep you long list of tasks updated (perhaps in the back of the book) and transfer a manageable amount of tasks each day onto your 'To Do' list, adding in set appointment and meetings for that day. You can follow the 'must do's' with 'ought to do soon' and 'can do later'.

Once you have a method you are comfortable with, you can work on making sure you utilise the list. Some tasks will inevitably be less pleasant than others, so you may decide to set aside half an hour each morning to make those annoying calls, update the spreadsheet or anything else irritating. Seeing the job crossed off on your list is far more satisfying than seeing it winking up at you, uncompleted, all day.

Make the List Work for You

You may find that once you have established a 'To Do' list writing and updating regime, your mind will be comfortable with deciding on the importance of tasks and where they fit in your structure. Having a manageable list of tasks each day allows you to have the feeling of 'completion' at the end of each day, with your crossed off list being a visual representation of what you have achieved.

One sneaky tip that can be adopted when you feel there are just too many tasks for you to do can be to start this list with a couple of jobs you have already successfully completed, just to stop you feeling overwhelmed. You then get the satisfaction of crossing of a couple of tasks and can get cracking on the rest!

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