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Ten smart things to consider when making a To-do -list

All people are different. My wife, for example, will remember all the things she must do during the day without any notes. It would be impossible for me to remember more than five things (or three) and therefore I have to outsource my brain.

That's why I have three different electronic caches, one for each major subject on my business agenda, but my most important tool is still To-do lists. I have five different ones - printed and labeled Monday through Friday. If I didn’t have them, I think my brain would probably explode. If it suits you to make use of such lists, I'll tell you how to do so effectively.

1. First of all - the purpose of the lists is to capture everything in one place so that you can let your brain rest between tasks instead of trying to remember the next on the agenda or bother yourself with details of all the other things you have to remember. Smart, I think.

2. Don't overdo it and fill your entire list. Make sure there is enough time for taking care of things that suddenly pop up.

3. Be specific when you write something you should be doing. Instead of ”Finding new distributors”, write ”Look online for companies that complement us and who may wish to sell our products. Contact at least ten of them”.

4. Make a column next to the note where you write how long it will take to complete each task. The great thing here is that you will find out that some tasks that you don't really want to do may take less time to complete than you thought. This will make it easier to deal with them, so they disappear forever.

5. Tick ​​things off from the list so that you will see that things are actually happening. Your list is not just a list of demands on you, it will also be literal proof for things you’ve achieved.

6. Put a symbol next to the things that take less than five minutes to complete and finish them right away. It will help you notice them in the future and you will learn to handle them directly instead of putting them on the list.

7. Go back to the list at the end of the week and give some thought to how much closer you would be to your goals if you did this for a year. If you can't see that you're getting closer to any goal at all using this method, then consider the things you put on the list. Is it really the type of things that would bring you closer to the goal? For example, you can schedule time each week and devote yourself only to the things that are most important for your progress.

8. Transfer everything you haven't had time to do to next week's (or next day's) list. Think a little about why some of the information always seems to get transferred to another day/week. Why are you avoiding those tasks? Is the task feeling too big, too hard? Can you divide it into smaller portions? What exactly is it you need to do to get it done and make yourself proud of doing it?

9. Keep the list with you so that you can always add new things. Avoid writing things on Post-it-notes, napkins or whatever you get hold of. The list is THE LIST. If you don't have confidence that the list really has everything you need to do, you will be mentally stressed out by not keeping the track of the things you need to keep track of for making it work.

10. It might be good to have different lists for different topics, places or situations. You can have a list of things to do at home and a job list. The important thing is that you keep them in the same place.

11. Try to set aside a special time each day for your planning and keep it holy. Use that time to also enjoy what you have accomplished, especially all the hassle that you managed to overcome. Give yourself a pat on the back for all your hard and dedicated work!

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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