Purposeful Lists

Purposeful Lists

A tried and true time management tool is list making. Just like any tool, though, tailoring it to your preferred work style is the key to making it work for you. Consider these three approaches:

Traditional List
Typically people list their most urgent tasks first and capture niggling little thoughts so they don’t forget them. Some like to categorize their tasks as well. For people who like this approach, one of their favorite aspects is the ability to cross things off—which makes it particularly appropriate for those who like to handwrite their list.

To Do vs Done List
Cataloging your list of tasks as well as the items you’ve completed can motivate you when your tasks seem overwhelming. In fast-paced environments, it’s easy to end the day feeling like you haven’t accomplished much. Seeing your accomplishments in writing helps quantify the progress you’re making.

Three-Step List
Productivity expert and author Charles Duhigg suggests breaking down big goals into their own to-do list. This reduces the intimidation that can occur when you’re faced with several big tasks. He recommends identifying a stretch goal for the day, actionable steps, and measures (e.g., “get 30% of the data analyzed”) to give you a sense of forward momentum for each initiative.

Using an app, keeping your list in your online calendar, or handwriting it are all matters of personal preference. How you organize your day is less important than using some type of system to help you do so.