Creating More Effective To-Do Lists
With so many things on an employee’s mind, it is no surprise that a survey by LinkedIn found that 63 percent of all professionals frequently create to-do lists. Women were more likely than men to make such compilations (71 percent vs. 60 percent), and list-makers were divided pretty evenly between those who jot items down by hand and those who compose electronically.
We all know, however, that stating things to do and actually getting them done are two different things. Globally, only 11 percent of professionals reported accomplishing all of the undertakings they listed for a given workday. Unplanned tasks such as meetings and unscheduled phone calls were given as the main cause for not completing all the items.
Mitzi Weinman, founder of TimeFinder (a professional training company that specializes in improving productivity, effectiveness, and focus), recommends arranging your to-do list in a manner that accounts for the unexpected. First, break the actions into doable pieces. Then, further break each action into small steps to accomplish. “Smaller milestones don’t seem as overwhelming and help reduce procrastination. You will feel a real sense of accomplishment upon completion. If you do stop (your choice or unexpected interruptions), getting back into your work is easier when you’ve been working on ‘small tasks.’”
Weinman also notes the importance of putting all items in one place -- whether that be a Blackberry, Google Calendar, or paper planner – and determining when you will take action. Giving each task a place avoids the creation of overwhelming lists, allows greater focus to the day, and results in a more accurate picture of what one can realistically hope to accomplish.