HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE TO DO LIST

Love them or hate them, an effective To Do list is the secret weapon for all creative entrepreneurs – but here’s the catch, you need to use it properly. Spilt coffee and lots notebooks won’t cut it as excuses, ok well maybe sometimes.

But as creative entrepreneurs with looming deadlines, we need the motivation to tick off tasks from our To Do lists. So how can you write a To Do list that actually works? We spill the beans below so you too can crush it and be the killer creative entrepreneur you’ve always wanted to be, with the occasional swim at the beach of course. Because being a creative entrepreneur, means you can take a break from your desk any time of the day. Hurrah!

 

MAKE SURE YOUR DESK IS TIDY
For many creatives, having a cluttered desk results in a cluttered mind. Before you leave work each day, make sure your desk is neat and tidy. This ensures you won't be spending 30 minutes at the start of your day wasting time tidying your desk when you should be getting stuck into your To Do list.

 

USE A NOTEBOOK AND PEN YOU LOVE
There is no point writing an effective To Do list if you don’t love your notebook or pen! Whether it's a stylish notebook from KikkiK or something more plain, as long as you feel good when you create your To Do lists you'll feel good about getting your tasks finished. On the flip side, some of you may not prefer the traditional pen and paper method; whichever make sure it’s a device or a medium you love.

 

WRITE TWO TO DO LISTS
Yes, call us crazy but we have found the most effective way to write a To Do list is to write everything down, then separate these tasks into two lists – tasks you need to get done that day, and tasks that can wait until the following day. We devote our attention to the first list; this means we are not wasting time on tasks that are not a high priority.

 

WRITE YOUR TO DO LIST THE NIGHT BEFORE
Writing your To Do list the night before means you will have cleared your mind of tasks you need to complete the next day. If you don’t, you might find yourself thinking about what you need to do at work the next day and therefore take ages to get to sleep – sometimes you'll even dream about those tasks, yuck. When you write you To Do list the night before, you'll hit the ground running in the morning. Winning!

 

KEEP IT SIMPLE AND SPECIFIC
Don't overcomplicate your To Do list, keep it simple by ensuring there isn’t more than 10 items on your list per day. Also make sure my tasks are specific. If you're a blogger, don't write ‘finish blog post’, instead be more specific, ‘finish writing blog post copy, select, edit and name final images from blog post, choose keyword for SEO, upload copy and images, schedule post’. Get our drift?

 

ALLOCATE TIMES AGAINST TASKS
This is a killer tool for writing an effective To Do list. Once you have finished writing your list, quickly write down how long you anticipate each task will take. This allows you to see if you have allocated too many tasks in one day, and it also makes you accountable to get them done.

 

EXERCISE IN THE MORNING
Exercise every morning; it'll leave you feeling energised, motivated and happy. If you're feeling great in the morning, you know it’s going to be easy to tackle that To Do list. Don’t be tempted to check your emails until you have exercised otherwise you will end up getting distracted by what you have to accomplish that day and completely forget to look after yourself through exercise.

 

REALISE SMALL TASKS CAN TAKE UP YOUR TIME
This is something not everyone is aware of but sometimes, and often, the somewhat smaller tasks actually end up taking the longest. A perfect example is Instagram content; you might think it’s going to take half an hour to plan one week of content but it can take hours due to editing, copy writing, planning and scheduling. So make sure you're aware how long tasks will actually take you.

 

DON’T LOOK AT EMAILS
When you sit down for the day, don’t check your emails as they are distracting and time consuming. Wait until you have finished your most important tasks on your To Do list before you look at emails. It is easier said than done, so start slowly and purposefully. Soon you’ll create a new habit and you won’t ever look at emails until your important tasks are completed.

 

LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVEN’T DONE
In the afternoon re-evaluate your To Do list to see what you haven’t done and what new tasks have popped up during the day. Quickly reprioritise this list so you know what needs to get done.

 

MAKE A NEW TO DO LIST EVERYDAY
Write a new To Do list everyday to ensure the same old tasks don’t clog your list. It’s actually a really useful way to make sure you get shit done.

 

Words by YCS Director, Jaharn Giles

 

 

Jaharn Giles