Time Management

To Do Lists

A To Do List “is a list of tasks you need to complete, or things that you want to do” (Burton-Payne, 2020). The included tasks are organized in order to prioritize them. This kind of lists can either be written on a piece of paper or you can use technological means, such as corresponding apps or computer programs like Word and Excel. By making a To Do List you can make sure you won’t forget any task included and that you can also manage the time needed to carry them out. 


Ways to help you make your To Do List work for you
(Duffy, 2020):

  1. Choose the right app (or use paper): The first step is choosing the app that works better with you. In case you prefer a single paper is just fine. However, an app has some benefits over paper.  For instance, you can easier add new tasks and it is not that easy to lose the digital list as long as it is saved. Moreover, there are several options to view your tasks such as alphabetically or by due date.
  2. Create more than one list: It might be helpful to create different lists concerning different topics or different fields of activity. You can have a different list regarding the household and another one referring to your professional life.  
  3. Add new tasks as soon as possible: When a new task shows up, you have to add it to your list as soon as possible, so you won’t forget it and have time to reorganize your plans if needed.
  4. Mention due dates: When a task has a deadline, then add it. This will help you prioritize your activities. Assigning due dates could be really assistive, because you can quickly see which tasks need to be finished by tomorrow, for example, and also helps you organize your schedule throughout the week.
  5. Review your list on a daily basis: Keep daily an eye on your list and examine whether it is reasonable and feasible. In case your today’s tasks can’t be completed, consider a revision.
  6. Write tasks, not goals: Goals are achievements or desirable outcomes and, as such, they are difficult to be quantified. Therefore, it is preferred to write down the tasks needed to reach your goals rather than the goal itself. 
  7. Make your To Do List legible: Use different colors to highlight certain important activities and use tight and simple language. 


Benefits of creating a To Do List
(Burton-Payne, 2020).

Setting Deadlines

Deadline is the due time or date by which something should be carried out. When it comes to professional life, deadlines are really common and it is of vital importance to follow them. However, setting deadlines and following them may not be easy for all of us, but it is something that can be practiced with patience (Nawrocki, 2014).  Below there is a piece of advice to help you set deadlines you will actually meet (Matthews, 2020):


Make deadlines                   

URGENT: It is easy to postpone a task, when you know that you have plenty of time to complete it. You may probably be occupied with something more fun than this specific task. But you might end up doing most of the work the last minute. Even if the deadline is not urgent, try to define some tasks that should be done as soon as possible. In this way there will be a daily progress on your work and you will be more motivated to complete the task.

PERSONAL: You might tell yourself that you need to have finished this task by that date, but if you have no interest in completing this task, then you will be discouraged and will lose your motivation. Make sure that you care about anything you have to accomplish; otherwise, you will struggle to follow the deadline.

ACTIONABLE: It is really hard to meet the deadlines, when your tasks feel like trying to move mountains. Break your tasks down into smaller pieces and take step-by-step action. 

Common mistakes when setting deadlines

(Nawrocki, 2014)

Prioritize

Prioritizing your tasks helps organize the activities you need to do throughout the day, week or month. Figuring out your priorities will boost your organizational skills and will positively affect your performances and productivity (Dagher, 2020). If you are feeling overwhelmed, then the level of stress could be reduced. Ways to help you manage workload are shown below (LiquidPlanner, 2020): 

  1. Make a list of all your tasks. This list can be similar to the model and structure of a To Do List. In this stage you don’t have to order your tasks. Just include them all in this list.
  2. Separate urgent versus important tasks.

This model consists of four quadrants. This model can help you identify, which tasks match each box. Activities that are important and urgent need to be done as soon as possible. Tasks that are important but not urgent can be carried out in the future, so schedule when you are going to finish them. In the quadrant no3 are tasks that are urgent but not important. These tasks can be assigned to someone else, whom you trust. Finally, neither urgent nor important tasks should be dropped off your lists. This model assists you to assess the value of your activities and prioritize them respectively.   

  1. Order tasks by estimated effort. Productivity experts recommend starting with the tasks that require the most effort, so that the easier tasks will be left at the end, when you might be more tired.
  2. Be flexible and adaptable. Your priorities might be altered due to changes in your personal or working life. You have to be flexible and willing to reorganize some tasks, which will probably be affected by these changes.
  3. Know when to cut. There might be some activities that aren’t urgent and important. Therefore, delete them from your list and focus on the tasks you must complete for the day.

Avoid causes of disorganization

Disorganization is the major enemy of productivity and effective time management, hence leading to higher levels of stress (Pyle, 2020). These are the main causes of disorganization (Burgess, 2019): 

When we are organized, our productivity can be improved because we can stay more focused and levels of stress can be reduced. Here are some ways to help you avoid the causes of disorganization (Pyle, 2020; Rampton, 2018):

  1. Make a decision: The first step is always the most difficult. Make a decision to start being more organized and think about why you need to be organized, in order to gain motivation.
  2. Do it on a daily basis: Find a task relating to your duties and repeat it every day. After some period of time, it will become a habit and it will be much easier to carry it out.
  3. Eliminate distractions: Try to remove distractions, which hinder you from completing a task. Your concentration will be maximized and it will be easier to stay organized.
  4. Drop bad habits: By this term we mean, for example, taking on more that you can handle. In this case, due to heavy workload, you end up doing nothing or leaving things unfinished. Another bad habit might be relying excessively on your memory. Your memory can be really strong; however, it can’t keep all the information needed. So try to carry a notebook, where you will jot down anything you want. 

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