The Best Way to Manage Your To-Do List

Most people alive today have way more to do than time available to do it. This is one of the reasons a well-managed To Do list is so important. Effective To Do list management enables us to:

  • Track outstanding projects & tasks
  • Determine what’s important and what can wait
  • Maintain control over items we need to address
  • Increase the odds of completing projects on time and within budget.

Below are 14 quick and easy tips to help you create and manage your To Do list.

  1. Create a separate To Do list for each project or set of similar projects. The To Do lists can be paper-based, electronic, via an App, or any combination of these that works best.

  2. Include both small and large tasks on your To Do list, as well as any recurring tasks, and the frequency within which they recur.

  3. Split each project into individual and measurable tasks & goals using the SMART system. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For more information on the SMART project management system, click here.

  4. Calendar a firm due date for each project.

  5. Working back from the project due date, create a due date and calendar reminder for each project-related task. Be sure to consider wait times from others involved in the project, as well as the amount of time needed to complete the task, and any other items that require time and resources necessary.

  6. Build in extra time where possible to account for the unexpected.

  7. Design your day, week, and month so that you can work on time- and brain-intensive tasks when at your best. Aim to do this 75-80% of the time.

  8. Understand that emergencies happen, and can impact your deep-thought, brain-intensive project time. If stuff happens, resume brain-intensive work at the next available opportunity.

  9. Schedule project time on your calendar and then honor this appointment with yourself as much as you would honor an appointment with anyone else.

  10. Share project due dates, goals, and tasks with all stakeholders involved in the project. This can be done via email or via calendar appointment, or both.

  11. Create a ‘Waiting For’ section on your To Do list. This section includes items that you need from others to proceed. Calendar a recurring appointment to remind you to reach out to those on whom you are waiting.

  12. If possible, create a deadline, after which no new input can be accepted. Remind all stakeholders of this deadline via regular emails and calendar reminders or appointments.

  13. Check off completed project items and transfer them off the To Do list. This shows progress and may increase motivation to move forward.

  14. And finally, understand that this is not an all or nothing proposition. It’s impossible to account for everything that might happen. The purpose of a To Do list is to minimize disruptions and ensure that you can get back on task at the soonest opportunity.

If you need help managing your to-do list, contact Lisa Mark, C.P.O. to find out if she is a good fit for your organizing or productivity needs.

3 Ways To Streamline Processes

A process is a series of repetitive activities or linked tasks which occur in a specific order and end when a service or product is provided to a client. Streamlining processes makes things simpler and more efficient and leads to improvement in operations. The benefits to streamlining processes include minimizing costs, diminishing or eliminating lost time, and reducing wasted resources. Streamlining can also lead to increased engagement, efficiency, and communication.

To streamline processes, start by doing the following:

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17 Apps for Tracking Time

When bringing tech into my business, I try to select tools that will enhance my productivity. Below are tips for choosing a time tracking app, along with options for time tracking apps that should lead to increased productivity.

When choosing a new app:

Use the KISS method. Kiss stands for ‘Keep It Simple, Sweetie.’ Ease of use is paramount with any new software. If I can’t determine how to use something within, say, the first 5 minutes, I’m not going to use it at all. So, bring in tech that is transparent, fun, easy to use, and keeps things simple for you and your team.

It’s not a bug…It’s a Feature! The more bells and whistles the software offers, the more difficult it can be to use. When possible, choose fewer, stronger features, rather than a whole host of ‘hey, that looks fun!’ Apps with fewer features enable ease of use, better streamlining, and a shorter (and flatter) learning curve. Definitely get what you need, but consider limiting extras.

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Easy Ways to Save Time

Home office organized by Lisa Mark, C.P.O.

Time Blocking

Identifying time-wasters is the first step to maximizing productivity. When thinking of daily tasks, ask if there is a way to clump, or group together, tasks that are similar. This strategy for doing similar things at one time is called time blocking.

From Time Blocking is a time management method that has you divide your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task, or group of similar tasks. Similar tasks may include:

  • Processing email
  • Scheduling client appointments
  • Attending meetings
  • Returning phone calls

Try using time blocking and see if it works for you.

Searching for Supplies

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Learn How You Can Do More with The Resources You Already Have

Poor time management leads to accomplishing less with the same resources. Declining to set aside specific times to work on projects may result in unmet goals. Under these conditions, it is easy to spend the entire day responding to urgent items and be unable to find the time to complete more important items.

Solution: Identify & Pinpoint time expenditure.

  • Use a calendar to schedule deep-dive project time.
  • When possible, schedule other, less important tasks around brain-intensive project time.
  • ‘Chunk’ similar activities like processing email and returning phone calls.
  • Keep detailed records so you don’t have to search for important items after the fact.

The custom half-day schedule management tool below includes time frames for regular daily activities as well as planned deep-dive project time. Extra time is built in for unexpected occurrences – a meeting runs late, heavy traffic, or a task takes longer than expected.

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Top Time Wasters: Looking for Lost Items

Searching for lost items is one of the easiest time wasters to address. Not being able to locate what you need when you need it can result in purchasing duplicate items, having multiples of the same type of item in different locations, and spending time and resources locating your items. It can also result in purchasing things that you already have, but cannot find.

In order to ensure that you can find what you need, when you need it, consider these tips.

Organize like with like.

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