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Get organized! How to create effective task lists?

21 December 2020
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Creating a task list may seem like a cliché, which is not able to motivate us to act. Meanwhile, a well-structured list can have a real impact on our effectiveness and be a source of considerable satisfaction.

There is a lot going on around us and our brain receives a lot of information. Creating a list of tasks can relieve it, so that instead of constantly processing issues that “hang over” us, we can take action here and now. This is especially true for people who love ticking off tasks, mainly perfectionists. Unfinished reports, unsent letters, and unfinished conversations will weigh them down.

First of all: take notes

Whenever you think of an issue that requires action, even if it’s far away, just write it down. In a special notebook, a note in your phone or an app. That way you don’t have to worry about missing an important point

Planowanie tygodnia
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Of course, just writing down your responsibilities won’t magically make them evaporate. You should review the list you’ve created on a regular basis and choose the highest priority responsibilities from it, and then… well, just get to work.

Divide responsibilities

Each chore will require a different amount of commitment and time from you. Vacuuming the living room will certainly take you “a bit” less time than writing a master’s thesis, so divide your duties into those that can be done in a day and those that require weeks or even months of work. You can also give them an appropriate name. In order not to be too boring, I have “big fish” and “small minnows” on my list

Quick pin

Dłoń trzymająca zegarek
(Photo by Jaelynn Castillo, source: unsplash.com)

Some guides suggest not to write down tasks that will take you less than 5 minutes – instead, you are advised to do them right away. This is quite right, but I have to admit that I sometimes write these kinds of tasks on my list as well. Why? It’s simple! Crossing off each task (no matter how difficult it is) gives you satisfaction and energy to complete the more difficult ones. If this works for you, you don’t have to stick to the 5 minute rule

Plan ahead

Writing down your responsibilities on a list is best broken down into 2 points

  • Weekly planning, where you write down on a selected day (e.g. Sunday afternoon) the responsibilities that await you that week
  • Daily planning, where you add to the list the things that come up suddenly or that you just remembered

Prioritize

Planowanie z zakreślaczami
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Regular highlighters can be helpful. Create your legend, where on the list you will circle with appropriate colors the urgent matters, the matters to be completed in the next few days and those that can still wait. This way you will have a clear view of how much you actually need to get done on any given day.

Break things down

This method won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s worth at least trying to familiarize yourself with it. The idea is to break down a particular chore (e.g. cleaning) into smaller points: cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the living room, cleaning the bedroom or dusting, vacuuming, mopping the floors, etc

Of course, you know exactly what you need to do under the general heading of “cleaning”, but by breaking things down in this way you get a panoramic view of what’s actually ahead of you, as well as the ability to track progress as it happens. And again: every little thing ticked off is a satisfaction! I recommend this for anyone who doesn’t like to wait too long for gratification

Remember to enjoy

Kosmetyki
(Photo: Charisse Kenyon, source: unsplash.com)

It’s a paradox, but in our daily rush we tend to forget… about ourselves. If you also have this tendency, make sure that your list includes the “mandatory pleasures”, such as doing a facial, painting nails or just a nice hot shower.

Not just chores

Lists don’t just have to be about chores. You can write down literally anything in this form: your expenses, ideas for gifts for your loved ones or culinary inspirations. This way, you’ll be able to relax more easily and no brilliant thought will disappear into the “black hole”.

Do you make your own lists?

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