I must confess, I am a little bit obsessive about making to-do lists. Almost every day, I have a list of all the things I need to do, together with approximate times and even alternate plans. I realize, of course, that I am not the only person who does this. As such, I want to share some advice about how to get a little more out of your daily planning.
Tip #1: Lots Of Detail
For many people, there is a temptation to make their to-do list in a kind of shorthand, i.e. not writing any more than necessary. However, it is much better to write out your plans in detail just to make sure that nothing important is forgotten. You can’t necessarily depend on yourself to make the exact same mental associations every time you read the list. Besides, your brain can only do so much at one time. Much like a computer is limited by its available memory, so too is the mind. The more you write down, the less you will have to remember.
Tip #2: Advance Planning
I used to make my list immediately upon waking up in the morning, but the fact is that there are all kinds of things running through a person’s mind at the beginning of a new day, and the mind and body are thus ready to get moving. Sitting down to make a list at this point goes against your natural inclinations, so make your list the night before. This is also good because it gives you time to evaluate the list and make sure that your plans will fit together properly.
Tip #3: Use A Schedule
When you make your list, don’t just make it a simple bullet list. Rather, set approximate times for everything. Obviously, certain things require an exact time (like leaving for work) but these times will generally be approximate. The point is to make sure you are not cramming your daily list too full, or leaving more free time than you want.
There are plenty of other good ways to utilize your to-do list more effectively, but I’m afraid we have run out of time. Stay tuned for more.