How to Complete Your To-Do List in 6 Simple Ways

How to Complete Your To-Do List in 6 Simple Ways

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How to complete your to-do list in 6 simple ways?

On most Mondays, I stare at a list of tasks that grows longer as the week progresses. Whether you own your own business, work as a freelancer, or are just starting out as an intern, this is a constant.

Every Friday, I discover that I’ve completed almost every task on my list, plus a few extras for good measure. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few more specific tips than the usual “Get organized” (although that can help). Every week, this is how I complete my to-do list.

1. Make the Most of Your Motivated Time

We all have a time of day when we work our hardest, are most eager to tackle a new task, or can handle more stressful projects. Look for it.

Simply experiment to accomplish this. Assume you have six time blocks in your day: in the morning, mid-morning, mid-day, afternoon, mid-afternoon, and late afternoon. Choose a few tasks on your list that you’re not looking forward to and schedule different blocks of time to complete them.

Make brief notes about your progress and how difficult it was to maintain motivation. You’ll notice that certain periods of time stand out for you. I’m a morning and mid-morning person who can sometimes find motivation in the late afternoon.

Use your motivated times wisely once you’ve identified them. Meetings should be avoided during those times. Plan to do the things you despise or the tasks that must be completed during this time. And, for God’s sake, avoid checking your email!

That brings me to my next point…

2. Disable Email Notifications

You understand what I mean. The noises. The advertisements. They are merely distractions. Even if you try to ignore them, you know they’re there, tempting you to abandon your work.

Two hours later, you’re in an impromptu Skype meeting that will result in you taking on more work while failing to complete the tasks you were supposed to complete before it all started.

Set aside specific times during the day to check your email. I usually check in after I’ve utilized my motivated time in the morning. Then once more after lunch. And again about 30 minutes before I intend to sign off for the day.

You’ll be surprised not only by how much more you get done in a day, but also by how many fewer emails you receive. When you check in frequently, your email can look like a war zone of back-and-forth, but if you only check in a few times a day, it appears relatively peaceful.

3. Take Rest Periods

Even if it’s just a quick walk around the office parking lot or getting up to grab a cup of tea, give your mind and body a break.

Consider work to be a wave on the ocean, with the buildup being when you learn about the task, the crest and crash being when your work is completed, and finally the washing away on the shore. That’s when you take a deep breath.

People who take breaks have higher productivity, according to research. Why not give yourself permission to do so? You’ll accomplish more.

Also read 10 Time Usage Strategies to Effectively Work

4. Divide large, general tasks into smaller, more specific tasks

A general massive project, like the advice to “get organized,” can be difficult to follow. This method worked wonderfully when I was invited to a speaking engagement. I’ll give you an example.

I would have felt overwhelmed if I had simply written “work on speech” on my to-do list. So I took out a piece of paper and sketched out a speech outline. Then, based on the engagement date, I calculated how much time I had to devote to each section of the outline. I then scheduled each item on my to-do list.

So, instead of a large, looming project, I had “Write introduction to speech” on my to-do list. That’s fine with me. And you’ll feel the same way, making it easier to complete those larger projects.

5. Request Deadlines

Did you notice how simple it was for me to prepare my speech given the limited time I had? That is critical when it comes to completing tasks. A deadline gives you a better idea of how much energy to put into it and how intensely.

For example, if your boss requests a report based on data from the previous quarter, you should probably know when he or she expects it. Is this something you should prioritize and perform right away? Can you break it up and work on it slowly enough to finish it by the end of the week?

Set some deadlines if you’re your own boss. Sure, they’re your ideas, but if you’re like most entrepreneurs I know, you hate disappointing yourself. You’ll finish it. Nothing concentrates a person like a future date.

6. Get rid of perfectionism

This was inspired by Bre Pettis and Kio Stark’s Cult of Done Manifesto. Perfectionism is the devil’s poison when it comes to task completion. “It’s boring and keeps you from being done,” says the manifesto.

Whatever type of work you do, there is always room for one more tweak, a few minor edits, or a slight adjustment. Is it, however, truly necessary?

That is the question you must ask yourself. Shouldn’t it be enough if you’ve worked hard on something and you’re proud of yourself? I could edit this article 14 times, but after the first two or three drafts, only I will notice the changes.

If you want to be productive, cross tasks off your list, and move on to the next week without carrying any baggage from the previous week, you must let go of perfection. It’s already tedious.

Nothing beats the satisfaction of completing a long day or a long week’s worth of work. I’m always looking for new ways to be more productive and would appreciate your feedback. What methods do you use to complete your to-do list?

 

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