September 1, 2020

How to Master Your To-Do List

Posted in: Maintenance, Organization, Productivity

Is your to-do list more like a wishlist of all the things you wish you could get done but never have the time to start much less finish?

Want to know the number one way to tackle it?

Schedule everything and know how long it actually takes you to complete the tasks.

When I say schedule everything, I mean schedule everything. Get your entire day on there. Block out the time it takes you to get ready, have meals, commute, run errands, do chores, all of it. 

Doing this will allow you to view your to-do list quantitatively rather than qualitatively. 

Ugh, I know, math words… let me break it down…

Here are some TIPS to Master Your To-Do List:

Sometimes, we make a to-do list with tasks ranging from small to large projects without considering how long each project takes. Whether the project can be broken down into smaller tasks or not. This leads us to pick the shorter, easier, more enjoyable tasks and ignore the jobs that are intimidating, have a vague description, or seem like they would take too long. How do you schedule “organize digital photos” when you have thousands in the cloud?

Start timing yourself

Solution? Start timing yourself for this and other tasks so you have a better understanding of how long things actually take. Block off the time you think it will take you, then go back when you’re finished to see how long it actually took you. Most people underestimate how long it takes to complete a task. They usually remember doing it quickly one time and then assume it takes that same amount of time every single time. 

By timing yourself, you can block off the accurate amount of time needed to complete your tasks. My fave example is dinner prep. I rarely see a recipe that has an accurate estimate for actual prep time. The estimated prep time starts after the veggies are washed and chopped, the meat is defrosted, and the necessary cooking utensils have been assembled.

Block off the time on your schedule

Once you have an accurate estimate of how long tasks take, you can block off the time on your schedule to complete them. For larger projects, like “organize digital photos”, set aside time to complete as much as you can. Then stop. Tasks of this nature will take several sessions to finish. Break the project down into small, achievable goals. Using this project as an example, you could schedule 30 minutes per night during your downtime between dinner and bed. Scheduling small sessions prevents burnout and keeps the momentum across several weeks. If you have a large, open block of time on the weekend, you could set a goal to go through 3 months of photos and then stop. 

Want to get my top tips for time blocking? 

I break it all down right here.

So, what planner do I recommend? 

I love, love, love Passion Planner because it allows me to time block easily. Each day is broken down by half-hour from 6:00 AM through 10:30 PM. There are spots for both work and personal to-do lists and even places to do some mind mapping. It comes in three different sizes, several different colors, and your choice of Sunday or Monday starts. Mine is the Annual Elite Black, size large with a Monday start.

Want to try one at a discount? Use my code to get $5 off $15!

Passion Planner Referral Code

How to Master Your To-do List: The best time management strategy so you run your list and not the other way around!
  1. […] Even with accurate timing, there needs to be a buffer. It’s not always easy to hard stop one task and jump into another. So it would be best if you had wrap-up time, aka transition time. Build this into your time blocks or schedule them as their own time block.  […]

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