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How to Create an Effective To-Do List (5 Tips)

Here are 5 great ways to get more done and feel more productive, straight from our friends at MOO. All with a good old-fashioned pen and paper.

Did you know friends of Shillington get 15% off their first MOO purchase?  Your perfect excuse to up your stationery game!

1. Get academic with the Ivy Lee method

Time management expert James Clear calls the Ivy Lee Method “the daily routine experts recommend for peak productivity.” We call it the $400,000 technique. Why? Ivy Lee, the man who founded the method, taught it to Charles Schwab and his executives in 1918— and told them to pay whatever it was worth. Three months later, Lee had a check for $25,000. That’s the equivalent of $400,000 now!

You’re gonna want to learn this. And it’s dead simple. Here’s what you do:

  1. Write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow.
  2. Rank those items in order of importance.
  3. Work on your first item until it’s finished. Then, move onto the next.
  4. When the day is done, transfer unfinished items to a new list of tasks for tomorrow.
  5. Repeat.

James Clear has a theory about why this method works: it’s simple, forces you to prioritize tasks, and makes it easy for you to single task. Boom. To-do list conquered.

2. Believe the hype with Bullet Journalling

This is one of the newer methods out there – and one of the most Instagram-worthy too. Millions of people across the world swear that this is the most flexible and efficient system for getting things done – and they can’t all be wrong, right?

Consisting of a basic framework, this method uses four core modules to collect and organize tasks and notes. The four modules are The Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log. You build your lists around your priorities, and have a simple way to demarcate different kinds of notes. As well as the modular framework, bullet journalling provides you with a range of signifiers that allow you to mark, divide and change tasks up as you wish. Get your highlighters out!

3. Go rogue with the notecard to-do list

If you love crafts—or just pretty colors—this is the method for you. Simply grab a pen and start writing to-dos on different colored notecards. The blog Small Stuff Counts suggests that you give each notecard one task.

Next, shuffle them up to determine the order in which they’ll be completed. That way, you can’t avoid the stuff that you hate— hitting inbox zero might end up on top! Alternatively, you can sort your to-dos by priority, or arrange them into smaller stacks to vanquish on different days of the week.

When you accomplish something on your list, crumple up that notecard and toss it in the trash. Bonus points if it has one of those little basketball hoops. See? You can trick yourself into making task-doing a game!

4. Track progress with the Kanban method

This method organizes tasks according to their level of progress: to-do, doing, and done. To get started, find a place where you can stick your thoughts.

You can get as crazy or simple with this as you want. Into color coding? Go for it. Hate list-making enough already? Stick with this.

As Andrew Kunesh notes on the Zapier website, “Kanban is great for teams and those who like to see the big picture at a glance. When using the method, you’ll have all of your tasks, due dates, and task progress in front of you, so there’s nothing keeping you from diving right into your work.”

5. The Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, states that around eighty percent of results come from only twenty percent of the effort. Or, to put it another way, most of the progress towards your goals comes from a few accomplishments.

Based on that principle, the Harvard Business Review recommends that you only focus on one of your six priorities for the day. Then, do that task alone for ninety minutes. If you find yourself drawn to a particularly cute cat video, write down the task again — essentially slapping yourself on the wrist with a reminder to get it done.

Enjoy this post? Read MOO’s other guest articles on the blog –> Why You Need a Mentor by MOO and 5 Tips for Better Productivity from MOO.

Guest Author Resources

November 6, 2017

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