The To Do list has long been a vital part of not just our everyday lives, but also successful businesses.
Especially in a startup situation, when there are plenty of moving parts and perhaps only a few people to handle a multitude of tasks, a to do list can keep you organized and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. An evolving to do list can be used throughout the life of your business, keeping track of who is doing what, what needs to be discussed, and even helping you to pinpoint areas of inefficiency.
While building a to do list may seem like a straightforward task, an efficient list will take a little planning and creativity, especially if it is designed to make sure all of the necessary tasks are being completed. You may choose to employ one of many productivity apps, which can manage your list, remind you about tasks, and even help you allocate your time more efficiently. If you want to write the most effective and efficient to do lists, we have a number of tips which can help you get started and manage your lists.
When Should You Build Your List?
The most common advice is to sit down in the morning and write your list for the day. However, a more effective and efficient planner will already have that day planned, at least the night before. Take a few minutes before you go to bed and make a list of the things that you know needs to be done tomorrow.
Is there really a difference between planning at night versus planning in the morning? There is, in fact, a significant difference. In general, you will have just finished a day of work. At this moment, you have an excellent gauge of your working pace, where you are in the overall scope of your long term projects, and what work absolutely needs to be done for tomorrow—for example, things you were supposed to, but did not complete today.
This is also a great way to train yourself to remember you do not have to finish everything on one day. Completing this task each night after the day’s work is finished can help you to review what you actually completed that day and feel better about the entire process.
When do I build my To Do List? Well I do my lists at night, my mornings are too busy, if I had a long day I might forget something but that’s the chance I have to take.
Consider Color Coding
If you are already an organization expert, you are probably already a fan of color coding. Choose whatever color system works best for your needs, but keep in mind that if more than one person is viewing your to do list, you might consider using red for urgent tasks, yellow for semi-urgent tasks, and green for “probably should do these, but if I don’t get to them, it is okay” tasks.
Color coding can also help you visualize how much work you actually have to complete on a single day. If you have a lot of red on tomorrow’s to do list, you probably will have a busy day. Things like meetings and important phone calls—things that must happen tomorrow (or on the day they are listed)—should definitely be in red. As you color code, factor in the consequences of not completing a certain task on a certain day. If there are no negative consequences of not completing it, consider if there are negative consequences of pushing it to another day.
Don’t make every task on your list red. This can be very discouraging, but it is also untrue. Some tasks simply have higher priority than others. Use as many colors as you need to properly prioritize your list (but don’t go crazy with the color scheme).
My personal tip: Don’t go over board with the colors, I use 3-4 main colors and that’s it
Use One of the Productivity Apps
There are plenty of apps on the market that can help you not only build, color code, and prioritize your list, but can also remind you of meetings on your list, or other important tasks which might slip through the cracks if you are not paying attention to your list.
Four popular apps are 24me, any.do, Todoist and Remember the Milk, both of which allow you to group tasks by category, assign them colors and priorities, and even keep a record of what has been completed and by who. Try a couple different apps before really diving in, as you need one that has all of the right features for your business and that is easy to use. Remember, you are going for efficiency. If an app slows you down, paper and pen might be better for your needs.
My favorite app: Well I don’t have one, they are all good apps and I can’t complain about anyone of them.
What to Put on Your List
Knowing what to put on your list can be difficult. It is tempting to fill the list of tasks that you know you will complete whether or not they are on that list, simply for the satisfaction of ticking their box or crossing them off. For example, if you check your email every day, several times a day, just by habit, there is no reason to include this on your list. On the other hand, if there is a specific email you need to respond to, that is a task for your to do list.
Treat your to do list as a planning tool, not a laundry list of everyday tasks you complete without being prompted. Lunch should not be on your list, unless it is in the form of an important lunch meeting with an investor or other important entity.
As you write your list, try to focus on language that encourages you to complete things. Writing, “Start investment plan,” is not directive and is not quantifiable. You may consider this task completed if you simply searched around on the internet for examples of investment plans. Instead write something like, “Finish bank loan application,” or “Complete investment plan.” These are tasks that you can fully quantify.
Don’t be afraid to be flexible with this list. Inevitably, there will be tasks cropping up throughout the day which were not included on your list but which must be completed. In order to keep yourself organized, keep adding them to your list and crossing them off as you finish.
Read More: Founder Guides
Do you have any cool To Do List strategy? Want to share your To Do List tips? Leave us a comment down bellow.