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Productivity / Time management tips

The ‘To Do’ list that worked

My previous article was on my time management plan that worked. I want to share exactly what it was that brought this baby home: a ‘To Do’ list that I could actually stomach.

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Previously, it didn’t take much for me to by-pass a To Do list and work ‘organically’ (which generally meant no hammock/tequila time). So some extraordinary strategy had to be devised that could commando-roll into my habitual working life. A daily list was too much, monthly wasn’t enough. Weekly had to be it. And so it was written, every Monday morning.

First up, I didn’t call it ‘My To Do List’. Looking at that title just makes me feel exhausted. Instead I called it ‘What’s the Gig?’ (although I’m considering changing it to: ‘My one-way ticket to the Bahamas’ or something like that). The point is, call it something that will seduce you to look at it.

The list itself is actually seven mini-lists. And it doesn’t start with what I have to do next. The structure is as follows:

1. Wins from last week

This is short list of highlights from the week before. It’s amazing what you can drum up – even after a tragically awful week – that brings a little glow into the room just by remembering it. A positive way to start the week, but you can’t stop there…

"I didn’t call it ‘My To Do List’. Looking at that title just makes me feel exhausted. Instead I called it ‘What’s the Gig?’ "

2. Zoom & focus

This title makes me feel like Quentin Tarantino, looking at a short bulleted list of projects that I’m working on that week. Next to the project titles are a few words on what I hope to achieve when. It’s important to get real about what is actually manageable here.

3. In case of a miracle…

This is a short list of extra jobs in the wings if I can squeeze something in. It’s a running gag, but I persist with this section nonetheless.

Want more articles like this? Check out the time management tips section.

4. Real people and everything

As I spend most of my time alone at the computer, this section is quite exciting. It’s a quick list of that week’s meetings and when/where they are scheduled for. While these details are already in my diary, I’ve found having meetings listed here helps to show the full structure of my working week.

5. Waiting room

You guessed it, a list of things I’m waiting for from other people that will determine the timing of workflow.

6. My babies

This is a mini-list of priorities for projects that I’m creating from the ground up.

7. My underpants

Okay, this list rarely has anything to do with my underpants. It’s a short run down of things I want to do in my personal life that week. From this point I can see how my personal priorities work in with my business ones.

And – surprise – it’s all on one side of an A4 page. Why? So it can be pinned to the board in front of my desk. Also keeping it to one page will curb your priorities to a manageable quantity.

Well, it’s worked for me so far. What to do lists work for you?

You can also read my earlier article on the time management plan that worked or my next article on the to do list that works even better.

Megan Hills

is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys helping others be engaging and understood. Through her marketing, publicity and graphic design nous, she can maximise the power of what you want to communicate to the people you want to reach.

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