Lists – I love them, always have done. There’s something deeply satisfying about ticking off items on your lists. I guess that’s why I took to accountancy, it’s basically just lists of income & lists of expenses.
When you have lots to do or lots to remember and everything is whizzing around in your head it can seem like double the amount of tasks you actually have to accomplish and can seem quite overwhelming. By writing the tasks down in a list it helps to clarify, organise and prioritise the tasks and then when you can see exactly what’s to be done and you know you won’t forget anything, it suddenly all seems less overwhelming.
As humans, we tend to have a natural state of ‘slackness’, lists help to focus the mind. Shopping lists, reminders and ‘to do’ lists are all variations on productivity based lists that we use to help us stop procrastinating. The ‘to do’ list is the one we spend most time on. We don’t seem to struggle to write a shopping list and then buy everything on it but getting tasks on a ‘to do’ list done is a whole different matter.
Tips for your ‘To Do’ list
Don’t make tasks too large, break them down into smaller tasks, you’ll have more to tick off and will feel like you are achieving more.
Prioritise – put the list in order of urgency.
Be realistic with your planning. It will have a negative effect if you are unable to accomplish your tasks in the time you set yourself.
If you can’t get motivated try doing the simplest, quickest tasks on your list first. Ticking off some items will help you get going.
Find methods that work for you. You may need a list of long-term tasks and then make sub lists for smaller more immediate or daily tasks.
In my personal life I have lists for everything, shopping (I have an app for that one), packing, camping, finances, birthdays, bucket lists etc, etc but we won’t go into those as some may think it’s a bit sad.
In work, although I have many lists to organise and keep track of things in my business, my ‘to do’ list is the most essential. (That and the list that shows who owes me money.)
I do a monthly to do list so on the first day of each month a new blank list complete with tick boxes is printed off. First I put on everything that was left to do from the last month. I draw a red line under these so I know they were from the previous month and that these items must be done by the end of the new month, that way I am never too far behind with anything. Then in a separate section I write in anything that I know has to be done in the month and the date it has to be done by, items such as PAYE submissions, Companies House annual returns, VAT returns etc. Again a line is drawn under these, then any new work that comes in during the month is listed underneath and whilst I try to get as much completed in the month, I know it’s ok if these have to be carried over to the following month.
Click link to my blankTo do list
Some days when there seems to be a lot of little bits & pieces to do, I will write a sub list just for the day. You need to be flexible, I do not always do the items in order of the list, if you know you only have 20 mins to spare, just chose a quick task to tackle, it’s not always practical to start a task you won’t be able to finish.
Lists can help a lot but don’t be ruled by them, sometimes life just gets in the way of your goals.