How to make to do lists that actually work

How to make perfect to do lists

The mind is good at so many things but is a BAD OFFICE” says Greg McKeown, Author of the book Essentialism. You need to organize your mind by arranging the tasks in a way that urges your mind to accomplish them and the best solution for that is “to do lists”. To-do lists take pressure of managing activities from your mind on themselves and gives your mind boost by releasing a neurotransmitter “dopamine” known as feel good hormone which is responsible for generating feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction .

“A Happiness key: Maintain something to be enthusiastic about. Small/frequent goals = Dopamine hits that propel success.”

― Steve Maraboli

The right way to achieve your goals is to break them up in meaningful and achievable tasks. More doable is the task, more chances are your mind is comfortable doing it. The way you make checklists and get along can ease your life or rip it apart.

Do you need a weekly list or daily list? The answer is both..Weekly lists are Mid level goals for your higher level goals and daily are small activities that help you accomplish your weekly goals.

Here is a list of some important stuff that you should keep in mind while making to do lists:

Be Realistic

The reason why we fail most of the days finishing off our to do list is because of our poor skills of making one. What we need is to “know our tasks” which we obviously can by experimenting day in out. The right amount of tasks help not only take pressure off our mind but helps urge our mind to achieve remaining tasks when we finish one and cut it off our list.

Tentative Time

While making a to-do list, we grossly underestimate the time a tasks requires and feel bad when we are unable to achieve them. Rationally choosing a tentative time for each task not only help make a realistic to do list but also track actual time that we need to achieve certain repeatable tasks.

Rank your tasks

You have made a list and based on your calculations you need 3 hours to finish the list; Lets re-evaluate the list and mark the tasks you must have done at the end of the day. The top three tasks you choose must have been done at the end of the day. Lets mark them with some different color. A study published in renowned Journal Nature revealed that red color enhances human performance. You may mark your prioritized tasks with red color

Time based to do Lists

These one are perfect when you are unable to breakdown goals into micro-tasks. Assume you have to finish thesis report; you have made checklists and wrote down your tasks daily, but you have failed miserably. The reason why you fail because the pressure was way to much and you were unable to even start. Use this trick now; in your checklist, just add 90 minutes work on thesis report. While you start; your mind will manage activities for you. In addition, your mind won’t take pressure on achieving big.

This works for me, hope it will work for you too!!

Re-evaluate your time


At the end of the day, open your checklist and write actual time opposite to tentative time you set in the mornings. Most of the tasks we set in a checklist are repetitive. The time you took in actually completing the task will improve tentative time in your next checklist and perfecting the checklist.

Experiment with to do lists

To master something you have to experiment. Keep changing your checklists; keep experimenting. Even some work; try to achieve the perfect for you; your work; your procrastination killer.

“When you’re experimenting you have to try so many things before you choose what you want, and you may go days getting nothing but exhaustion.”

Close your day

What if you have a load of work pending at afternoon in the office and you have to sit late if you won’t finish up-till 5 O clock? Would you accept that or rather choose to complete before off time even you work extra hard, avoid mini breaks..Undoubtedly, you will choose the later one. Do this at home too. Set a close time say 8 pm or 9 pm depending upon when you sleep, and close your day. No work after 8 pm. You may unable to complete your tasks in beginning but this will help raise your productivity by avoiding procrastination and you will enjoy your earned free time at the end of the day.

Test your limits

While starting some task in office or at home, force yourself to complete within some target time. This will enhances your productivity drastically..You can do this too!!

Not to do lists

The only reason that prevent us from achieving our day to day tasks are “Distractions”. Make a not-do-list from time to time and write activities which make you procrastinate and distract during work.

Try living one day at a time

Please don’t do this!! don’t pile up..If you are unable to finish your to-do list please don’t add tasks from previous day. You probably won’t even do anything by the pressure on your head. This ruins the whole week for most of the people…Don’t go hard on yourself..keep it simple.

Just imagine if are able to achieve 5 tasks a day.. you can finish 30 tasks a week with one “don nothing” day….If you can master breaking your goals into meaningful tasks.. you can do wonders!!! that’s why to do lists are so helpful.

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