Time Management – Effective Use of To-Do Lists

Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do? Do you sometimes totally forget to do something important, or even miss a deadline altogether?

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These are all symptoms of poor time management which could be rectified with the implementation of a prioritized “to-do list”. By creating a “to-do list” you are ensuring that all your tasks are noted in one place. By then prioritizing those tasks (from most to least important) you are able to plan the order in which you will address them, thus ensuring that those with the highest priority get your immediate attention.

To-do lists are particularly helpful when you are dealing with multiple deadlines and are feeling overloaded as a result. By using them effectively, you’ll find that you are better organised and you’ll experience less stress, knowing that you haven’t forgotten anything. In addition to this, if you prioritize properly, you’ll be focusing your time and energy on high value tasks, making you more productive.

Creating a To-Do List
Step 1:
  • Write down all the tasks you need to complete for the upcoming week or month.
  • If there are large tasks break them down into smaller tasks / steps .
  • Ideally a task or step should not take more than a few hours each to complete.
  • It may be helpful to compile a to-do list per subject you are registered for, or one for personal tasks and one for college tasks. Try different approaches and see which best suits you.
Step 2:
  • Read through your list and allocate each task a priority rating i.e. “A” for very important or urgent tasks, “B” for moderate / ordinary tasks and “C” for unimportant, low importance tasks.
  • If you find that the majority of your tasks have been allocated an “A” for high priority, re-do your list, with a realistic and critical eye looking for what really is high priority and what can be safely demoted to moderate and low priority.
Step 3:
  • Start making use of your list by working through the tasks in order of priority.
  • Once you’ve completed a task in full, tick it off or draw a line through it.
  • Once a day (either in the morning or the night before) spend 10 minutes revising your list  – adding anything new that has come up, re-assigning priorities should things have changed etc.

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Prioritized to-do lists are exceptionally helpful with:

  • Reminding you what tasks need to be done for a particular time period.
  • Organizing what order your list of tasks should be done in, so that you don’t waste time on low value tasks.
  • Maintaining stress levels by moving focus away from unimportant, trivial tasks.

Reference:

To-Do Lists: The Key to Efficiency. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_05.htm. [Accessed on: 16 February 2017].

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