How to Make a To-Do List That Really Works
Almost everyone struggles with finishing tasks. However, some of us have trouble with the work that comes before a task: recognizing what we need to accomplish.
The solution? A to-do list! It’s a tried-and-true technique that is wonderful in its simplicity: first, determine what needs to be done, then determine the sequence the tasks need to follow. It’s a simple process:
- write down each task
- work in the task
- cross each task off as completed
Our brains love ordered tasks, and we perform better when we have written down what we need to do. Learn more about the psychology of to-do lists here.
But be careful! Many to-do lists are actually not very effective.
Most people end up with a list of tasks that are either too long or too vague, which means they don’t really know where to start and how much time each task will take. This makes it difficult to plan the task effectively.
You’ve Made A To-Do List. Now What?
Once you’ve made your list, it’s time to get down to business. Avoid to-do lists that are too long or too vague, which makes it difficult to know where to start and how much time each task will take.
Here are four tips for making an effective to-do list:
- Determine what has to be done and in what sequence
- Write down all the tasks
- Complete the tasks one by one
- Cross them out as completed
If you have a lot to do in a day and are starting to feel overwhelmed, create a To-Do List! Simply by creating the list, you will feel more organized, in control, and accomplished, which can reduce your stress levels and help to get the work done.
To-Do List Pro Tips
The first task on your to-do list should always be the most important one. Never start with the small stuff; getting the big things out of the way first is better.
If you’re going to make a to-do list, it’s important that you make a list of what needs to be completed. Write down each task on a piece of paper and assign an estimated time frame of when they must be completed—by the hour of the day.
This is a straightforward tip, but it’s hard to remember. When you’re writing down your to-do list, ensure each task has a specific action associated with it.
For example: “Finish English homework” is not effective because it’s vague and doesn’t tell you what to do. Instead, write Complete Shakespeare’s impact on world literature unit for English class. The more specific the details, the easier accomplishing the task becomes.
Tackle Your To-Do List with Oxford Learning
At Oxford Learning, we’ve built organization tips and study skills into every program. Learn more about how you can create effective to-do lists at one of our learning centres.