How to Make Sure Your To-Do List Gets Done

by Lucas Kleinschmitt on June 9, 2011

If you’ve read my free starter’s guide, Productivity Secrets Made in Germany, you’re hopefully writing a to-do list for the next day every night before you finish work.

But does your to-do list always get done? Or do you sometimes look at the list in the morning, see an overwhelming number of tasks, don’t know where to start, and end up procrastinating for hours before you actually get to work?

If so — you’re not alone. Pretty much everyone faces this problem at least occasionally. That’s why, today, I would like to share one tip with you to make sure you start working on your to-do list right at the beginning of the day and stay on it with laser focus until all tasks are completed.

This trick is so simple it will almost make you laugh; yet, it is deadly effective. Here it comes:

Order Your To-Do List.

A prime cause of procrastination is the feeling of overload that arises from not knowing where to start. By deciding on the order in which you will tackle your tasks in advance, you eliminate this problem.

But beware! Don’t just randomly assign a number to each of your tasks. You need to give the order careful thought.

Factors You Should Consider:

  • Place more difficult tasks early in the list, so that you work on them while you are still loaded with energy.
  • It’s also a good idea to put some easier jobs between the tougher ones to allow for a quick recovery before you tackle the next big thing.
  • In addition, you need to pay attention to any logical relation that may exist between two tasks; for example, usually it is better to discuss the goal and scope of a project with your business partner or boss before you start writing up a proposal.
  • Lastly, never forget the golden rule: Always give the first rank on your to-do list to a task from your success chunk. That way, you’ll make real, consistent progress towards your long-term goals.

Ordering Your List with Outlook

If you’re using Outlook as an organizer, a simple way to order your tasks is to place a number first in the task’s subject. Then display your tasks for the current day only and have them listed by subject ‘alphabetically’. This will cause the task whose title starts with a “1” to be listed first, the one starting with “2” to be shown second, and so on.

Your Turn

I urge you: Try ordering your to-do list as described at least for a trial period of seven days. You’ll love how much you get done and my guess is that you’ll never again not order your list.

Lucas Kleinschmitt

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