Do you know people who seem to accomplish a lot almost every day and wonder how they stay so efficient? Do you wonder why you work so hard, yet find yourself feeling that you never accomplished very much at the end of the day?
You’re probably thinking that people who accomplish so much, stay organized and continually attain both small and large successes, must have something “figured out.”
Well, they do. They have figured out what works for them and that is what each one of us has to do.
I don’t know exactly what will help you to become more efficient, but I will share with you what works for me, in the hopes that you may be able to find something in my writing that will help you out.
My tactic for getting more accomplished is a simple little thing called a to-do list.
Sorry. I know that it’s a simple concept and probably not the magical answer that you were looking for, but please allow me to explain how I use lists to my benefit. I just ask that you think about some of the ideas, and try them out before dismissing them.
Why is it so important to keep a list of “things to do?” Here are a couple of good reasons:
1) You won’t forget things. No matter how much I think “Oh, I will definitely remember this or that,” I have discovered that as the years pass, it is getting harder and harder to remember things. Sometimes I get half way across the room and forget why I am crossing the room in the first place! Write everything down that you need to remember. Don’t leave anything to memory.
2) When you write something down that you need to do, it allows you to temporarily forget about it,so that you can focus on what you currently need to get done. You can be more productive.
Where does one start with list-keeping?
I actually keep two separate lists. One is for work and the other one is for home.
I keep two separate lists so that I can focus on work things at work and home things at home. However, I take both lists to work with me, in case there is something personal that I need to take care of during business hours, such as setting up a Doctor’s appointment for me son. At lunch time or during a break, I refer to my home list to see if there is something that I need to take care of before the end of the work day. The trick is to make sure that you take a minute or two during the day to pull your home list out and check it. If you are like me, as soon as I head out for work in the morning, my mind seems to automatically blank out everything in my personal life because I am already thinking about the things that I need to get done at work. Another good reason for taking your home list with you to work is so that if something occurs to you during the day that you need to take care of after work hours, you can put it on your home list and concentrate on your job again because you know that you won’t forget about it later.
Since there isn’t anything that I can do about work while I am at home and also because I don’t want to forget it at home, I leave my work list at work. If I am at home and think of something that I need to do at work that I am afraid I will forget, I will make a note of it, put it in my work bag or purse and then (hopefully) remember to add it to my work list the next day. (This isn’t as complicated as it may sound – give it a try!)
What do I use for keeping my lists?
What works best for me is a 6×9 lined notebook – not small enough to easily lose and not so large that it can’t fit inside a small bag. I have plenty of room on the pad for little notes here and there if I need to add more details.
Set daily goals.
You can list a certain number of tasks to accomplish, a certain amount of time to spend on each task, or a combination of both.
Commit yourself to accomplishing a certain number of things each day. I usually plan to accomplish so many things at work and so many things at home. Be careful not to overwhelm yourself and set over-lofty goals, though. If you’ve already got plenty on your plate for the day and you think of something that doesn’t need to be done that day, pick another day in the near future to list it under. I typically have my lists go out about a week.
While striving to accomplish a specific number of things on a daily basis, you may need to be flexible if something else comes up that demands your immediate attention. If that happens, choose something on your list that day that has the least priority and move it to another date.
Keeping a daily list helps to break big projects down into smaller tasks.
It’s easier to accomplish something if you break a big or a long-term task down into steps.
For instance, if you need to study Biology, you could write something like “read chapters four and five in Biology” or “study Biology for 45 minutes,” versus “study for Biology final.” It’s important to be specific with your daily tasks.
Also, if you have something that is only going to take a minute, but you really dread doing it, write it down on your list and give yourself credit for doing that. As an example, if you have a phone call to make that you really dread making, you should get a pat on the back for doing that, just as much as you would for doing a couple loads of laundry that takes more time.
What about long-term goals?
Short-term goals – your daily lists – help you to accomplish your long-term goals, but it’s good to have a list of long-term goals written down somewhere, as well as a time-frame to accomplish them. It helps to keep you more accountable for getting things done.
If you don’t have certain long-term goals that you are shooting for, you may have less motivation to complete the short-term tasks. Periodically, look at your long-term goals to help you stay motivated. Maybe put them up somewhere where you can readily see them, such as on your refrigerator. It will help to remind you that all of the effort that you put in on a daily basis, is a part of the “big picture” that you are aiming for!
As you accomplish your tasks, cross them off your list as soon as you do them.
This helps to visualize how much you are actually accomplishing. At the end of the day, when you are wondering “where your day went,” you can look at your list and see just how much you actually did get done!
When people walk into my office at work or see my desk at home, it may often look like a tornado just went through and they probably think that I am disorganized and don’t get much done. My work area may look messy at times, but that is because I am usually working on several projects at the same time. It works for me because I don’t get bored and it keeps things challenging for me.
What allows me to accomplish so much in my organized chaos is that four letter “L” word – “LIST.”
The fact that I have my handy-dandy lists with me and I use them to my advantage allows me to both focus on one thing at a time and at the same time, work on several things at once if I choose to do so.
While this “list” thing probably sounds very tedious, it actually helps me keep my sanity!
I challenge you to try some (or all) of the suggestions that I have made regarding list-keeping.
If you do, I would really like to know if any of these ideas worked for you and how you feel about your accomplishments after you have been doing it on regular basis!
Best to you!
Hello! My name is Jayne Flaagan. I have been writing since I learned my ABC’s! I just published my first Ebook and I am working on my third blog. I appreciate your taking the time to read what I have written!