By the end of the year we tend to make a list of milestones we would love to accomplish in the next 12 months. A list of resolutions invariably resembles a to-do list, either formal, random or just mental. Yet instead of being an inspirational guide, it often triggers a myriad of negative feelings- incompetence, frustration, guilt- as lines with new tasks are added and none gets crossed out. So how should you manage your to-do list to get things done?
No call to action on your to-do list
We tend to be very vague with articulating what needs to be done. A clear call to action makes the task more specific. Email, call, arrange, submit- all these are instructions difficult to ignore, explicitly stating what to do. With no specifics at hand, it is probable that little will change on your to-do list except for more and more tasks building up without execution. So, add clear commands to trigger action and tick off the items that were completed.
There are projects no tasks on your to-do list
Breaking up a monumental task into bite-size chunks can help combat procrastination. More tasks will populate the list. But with their smaller scope, they will appear more manageable and thus will take less time to carry out. Consider them milestones on a way to accomplishing the whole task. Complete the subtask, cross it out and move on to the next.
Your to-do list has no time slots
Unforgiving deadlines overwhelms us. Prioritizing tasks is key to avoid thinking that the cutoff date won’t be met. And thus, moving on with your to-do list. But this on its own is not enough. Assigning a pending errand an expiry date creates an anchor in the calendar. It allows to plan the sequence of each subtask to progress to the next if the former was completed. It also creates a so-called commitment device, allowing you to get things done with low likelihood that you will omit some vital steps on the way.
Commitment device is missing
Distractions throw us off track. But there are solutions to keep them at bay. Think of creating a habit or circumstances that will compel you to follow through a course of action and prevent from skipping or abandoning the task. Because ticking off items easy to achieve, leaving the rest for the undetermined later stage, is another obstacle to overcome. The commitment devices, even though begrudgingly applied, will help you get those steps in the right sequence to accomplish them with ease. Use commitment devices of your choice if discipline is not your strength.
No matter how short your to-to do list is, it might have some flaws that stand in a way to completing all that you intended. Use those tricks to manage your to-do list to help you get things done and feel in control of the plans you make.