The Importance of To-do Lists and How to Maintain Them

[WARNING: I am going out of town soon, and my brain may be a bit jumbled with prep needs, stick with me.]

I’m freakin’ out.  

Sitting here in my little cubicle at an orientation for an internship that will send me abroad for two months, my brain is balancing worries about getting all of my ducks in a row mixed with excitement.  

With all of this in mind, it is difficult for me to keep my head straight to get those said ducklings in said row (who coined that term, anyways?).

To stay as productive as possible, I have developed a few tips to make and maintain a tidy to-do list through my little preparation journey for my greatest adventure yet!

1. Preprare a list that can be found on either electronic or written mediums.  I prefer being able to access my to-do list on my phone and computer.  Some prefer the written method, keeping a written planner and a desk calendar.  Don’t try to mix them, it doesn’t work.  For electronic methods, you can get an app that syncs with your calendar, or simply use G-mail or Outlook and link it to your phone.  If you have written methods, make sure to allot time each day to sync your calendars together by hand so there is consistency.

2.  Update your tasks daily.  It is difficult to start, and I have been struggling as my routines have been changing over summer, but try to set a time each day to update your to-do’s.  I have found mornings work best, as you can indicate which you will get done that day.  Try to avoid nighttime updates, or you’ll train your brain to think of things you need to get done as you are trying to go to sleep – ain’t nobody got time for dat.

3. Develop a system for prioritization.  If you have a written calendar, highlight imperative tasks or color-code based on urgency.  If you’re using electronic mediums, it depends on the method but there are ways to show which tasks need the most attention when. 

4.  Develop a system of rewards for yourself.  I struggle with this one.  Right now, my best reward is quieting the inner beast that demands I do more.  Try to make a system of little rewards you can do for yourself after you complete a task, but keep the discipline to make the rewards little.  If you give yourself 5 minutes break after every task completed, don’t cheat and take 10, or worse 15 or 20.  

5. Stick with it.  To-do lists don’t work if you stop updating, or revert to your mental check-list capabilities.    

If you are able to maintain a tight schedule and to-do list, you will be light-years ahead of the rest of the rat race struggling with time management.  This is not to say I am perfect at it, but these are tried and true methods to help you on your trek to productivity.

Food for thought.



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