When it comes to productivity, there has been no tool more enduring than the humble to-do list. But these days, we find that our lists are growing faster and faster, and it can feel like we’re clearing them slower and slower. And, if you’re anything like us, you may find that the to-do list ends up closer to a “not-done” list by the end of the day. When it comes to achieving business goals, like a profit increase, a to-do list is a vital building block to eventual success.
If you’re finding your to-do list continues to grow rather than shrinking, take note of these tips to help you get organised.
Grouping your tasks
Let’s jump right in. A great first step is organising a hierarchy for your to-do list – from high priority tasks through the less urgent. The first step is identifying your Must-Do tasks, e.g. meetings and appointments, as well as other urgent work. Taking these prioritised tasks – for example, reports for meetings, or other urgent work – and including a deadline on your list can help you action the work. Presumably, everything else falls into the Other category. This may include things like coffee catch-ups, organising or cleaning your desk, or research tasks.
Organising a hierarchy for your tasks and giving them deadlines gives you a great idea of how to best utilise your time.
Another great tip is to consider grouping similar tasks so you can complete them efficiently. Studies have consistently demonstrated a drastic reduction in efficiency when you attempt to multi-task. So, despite our gut instinct to switch tasks and work on several things at once, it actually slows us right down. Too much task switching between can cause you to lose focus and valuable time.
How should you prioritise tasks?
So, what do you need to be asking yourself when it comes to ordering your tasks according to priority?
1. How important is it?
2. How long is it likely to take to complete?
3. What are the consequences of not completing it now?
4. Is there any special tools or information I need before I can complete this task?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can decide which jobs to tackle first and prioritise your tasks effectively.
Outsource and delegate your work
Outsourcing is an efficient way of handing over admin tasks to someone else. If they don’t require your expertise and you have too much to do, consider outsourcing and delegating your tasks as much as possible to relieve some of the strain. This works the other way – be open to people delegating and outsourcing tasks to you. We work well when we work cooperatively. Some of their tasks may be more suited to you, and vice versa.
Prepare for the unexpected – and plan your time off too
You can’t plan for every eventuality so it is important to leave a window in your diary for unplanned things – answering emails, unexpected phone calls, last minute tasks. If you leave 10 minutes of every hour to these unexpected delays, you’ll be adequately prepped if anything comes up. And if nothing does, you’ve just found yourself 10 minutes when you can re-align yourself with the work at hand, and get kickstarted on the next job. Also plan – and take – time off throughout the day. Regular breaks are crucial to maintaining a high level of efficiency. Whether it is a walk ‘round the block, or a coffee with co-workers, taking your head out of work will help you smash through your to-do list when you’re back at the desk.
Get your to-do list sorted today
Having an organised to-do list will supercharge your day. There is a palpable joy when it comes to ticking or crossing off those big tasks – and this sense of accomplishment will feed our energy when it comes to the next task on the list. If you’re ready to supercharge your business, consider Bartercard. We can help you increase profits and decreasing operating expenses, simply by helping you join the world’s largest bartering marketplace.