Tips to help you organize that ever-growing to-do list

Keeping yourself organized is the key to productivity and making sure that you meet all your urgent deadlines. One of the simplest ways to keep track of what needs to be done is to start a to-do list of tasks that need to be accomplished on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. But simply writing a list at the beginning of the week isn’t enough. What happens if you suddenly get a large project dropped in your lap on Wednesday? What if something you’ve been assigned to do has been completed by somebody else on your team? Professional to-do lists need to be kept organized as well, and we’ve got a couple of tips to help you keep yours in check.

Keep all your tasks in one to-do list

Many people start disparate to-do lists and then forget to compile them all in one place. Instead, you’ll have some notes on your phone, a draft in your email, some text files on your computer and most likely a Post-It or two on your monitor. Establishing a single place for all your workplace-related tasks is necessary, as it gives you an overview of what needs to be done at a glance, without you having to waste precious time looking for that single email.

Your to-do list can be in any format you want, whether it be a Word document, a handy notebook or an app on your phone. The main considerations need to be that your list is easy to update and accessible at all times. Technology is very useful in keeping a to-do list, and using a dedicated program like PerfectForms can be ideal, since the software can access data anywhere and it’s great at helping you keep your tasks organized by using a simple drag-and-drop interface.

The 1-3-5 rule

Once you’ve got your list in one place, you can assign tasks on a daily basis. To keep things manageable, assume that each day, you can finish one major task, three medium tasks and five small tasks – and do them well. Try to figure out what tasks take priority and then take a couple of minutes as you sip your pre-work coffee and decide what you’ll be doing that day. If your responsibilities change often, keep one or two of the medium and small task spaces blank so that you can fill them in during the day. Forcing yourself to choose only one major task allows you to prioritize and ensures that the most important and urgent assignments are completed on schedule.

Try and complete one of the medium or major tasks before lunch, preferably first thing in the morning. This gets the major hurdle out of the way quickly and leaves the rest of the day free to focus on the smaller and less intimidating undertakings. It also means that if an emergency arises in the afternoon, you don’t need to reschedule an important (and likely urgent) task – instead you’ll have the time free to handle whatever life throws at you.

Creating a well-run and up to date to-do list is a feat of organization in itself, and accomplishing this will help your productivity and reduce stress in the workplace. How you put together your to-do list is up to you. You can use a workflow application or a simple pen and paper – whatever works best for your needs, as long as you keep it organized.




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