How to develop the ultimate to-do list
Planning is an essential part of getting the most from any task or goal. This is especially true for running a business, charting a professional path or managing a project. Planning, although initially time consuming, allows you to dissect a situation, prepare each step and monitor the growth and development of your goal.
When it comes to planning, the number one strategy is to use a to-do list. A to-do list normally outlines a number of tasks to be achieved in a specified time frame. The great thing about to-do lists is that you can reference them to determine your progress. However, if your list doesn’t provide you with a brief but detailed path to an end-result, you may end up with a dysfunctional course or unreachable goals.
A highly functional to-do list can contain a few elements to keep your momentum going and gage your success with a task. Here are a few tips about creating a meaningful to-do list for your next project, task or schedule:
1) Decide what your ultimate goal is: You can create a bunch of tasks that have no relationship to each other. That’s not a to-do list. That’s a regular list or an act of brainstorming. An effective to-do list should be tied to an objective and should be quantifiable such as “Get 100 registrants to XYZ event” or “Get 5 new clients from my sales presentations”. Defining your end result first will help you create a list of actions that are designed to help you achieve your goal.
2) Time should be of the essence: Every goal is tied to a time frame. Otherwise, you could spend days, weeks or even longer trying to achieve something. Put a time stamp on your goal, but make sure it’s realistic. If your goal is “to get 100 registrants to XYZ event” and you’d like that to happen in 2 hours, is that realistic? If you limit your opportunity to achieve a goal, you’re going to frustrate yourself and determine the goal to be unreachable. That’s counter-effective planning. Give yourself wiggle room, but put a definite (short-term) end to a solution.
3) Gather your materials: You can’t possibly achieve a goal within a specific time frame without having everything you need. Make a list of essential items that aid in getting the task done. If your goal is “To get 100 registrants to the XYZ event in two weeks”, what materials would help you achieve this goal? Materials could include technology, printed items, people, resources, personal items, etc. List only what you absolutely need to get the job done.
4) Figure out your priorities: Some lists can go on and on with action items. Some lists have tasks that can be reserved for later goals. Make sure your list contains action items that are critical elements in achieving your immediate goal.
A trick in establishing a priority item is
a) Can this goal be achieved if I omit this task from my list? (Your answer should be NO)
b) If I don’t start this right now, will it prevent me from reaching my goal? (Your answer should be YES)
c) Can I get this done with a few simple steps or in a short period of time? (Your answer should be YES)
d) Will doing this task free up additional time or resources? (Your answer should be YES)
e) Do I need to wait on other people to get this done? (Your answer should be NO)
5) Proceed with enthusiasm: Once you have a goal, a time frame, a list of materials and your priorities are in order, you should eagerly pursue your goals. There’s no need for trepidation or wondering if you’ll achieve everything on your list. If you face your tasks with an optimism about achieving the bigger goal, you’ll have all of the momentum needed to accompany a well-planned list.
These are just a few tips on creating the ultimate to-do list. For more tips, please contact me. Have you put these tips to use? Do you have a few tips of your own? Share them! I’d like to hear your feedback.