How to find the ‘to-do’ list that works for you

to do list

to do list“You can’t manage time – you can only manage yourself,” is a quote a wise owl once said, so the best way to start is to find a way to manage your lifestyle that suits your personality.

“To-do” lists come in all shapes and forms and can be electronic, colour coordinated, on whiteboards or “post its”, imaginary or even written on the back of your hand; but an effective “to-do” list could help you plan your busy day so it’s key to pick a system that works best for you.

Here’s our run-down of top “to-do” list personalities, but remember, when tackling your list, be flexible – we don’t live in a perfect world and things will always crop up from time to time so don’t feel guilty for reprioritising.

1. The Perfectionist

If you like to plan and prepare, this is the method for you. Start by writing down all the tasks that need to be completed and then break it down.

Organise large tasks with sub headings and colour code by prioritisation. For example, red tasks need to be done today, amber are less important and green are lowest priority; but remember to keep it short: having an endless list to complete won’t be an inviting prospect!

2. The Juggler

If you feel like you’re constantly trying to juggle everything at once, then this could be your solution. The secret to this list is to segregate the “to-do’s”, making those impossible tasks into manageable chunks. For example, a working mum might want a list for work and one for kids, family and household chores.

Get in the habit of re-wording the list, so instead of writing “clean out the office” start by saying “tidy up filing cabinet” and so on.  Still overwhelmed? Put a completed task on the “to-list” so there is something to tick off straight away – this tricks the mind into thinking the list is more achievable.

3. The Scatter Brain

If you’re slightly disorganised then this could be the perfect list for you. Our time-management expert, Michael Heppell personally recommends this simple but effective idea. So how do you achieve it? At the end of each day simply pick the top five most important things to do tomorrow, and do them!  Don’t be tempted to pick the easiest or fastest, just the most important.

To help pick a top five, write out a “need to do” list and decide which will then go into a top five “must do” list. Categorise the “need to do” into “items to delegate”, “dump” and “diarise” to help you.  Take a look at his save an hour website for more information and download the “to-do” list template.

4. The Techy

If you’re an iPhone addict or a blackberry believer you may want to opt for the digital option. There’s a number of ways to go about this, via a “to-do” list app, computer software or through an Outlook calendar.

This means you will receive reminders throughout the day, be able to set a priority level, and even attach images and colours to tasks in your lists. They’re also a really useful way of keeping a record, plus you can link your office schedule to your phone to achieve a work/life balance on the move.

5. The List-Phobic

If The List is more of a fiend than a friend why not flip it on its head and try a “Not To-Do” list? It gives an opportunity to focus on what you don’t want to do that day, for example  if you’re trying to plan a family holiday and have been meaning to look for deals on the internet but keep getting distracted, your “Not To-Do” would be: “I’m not going to procrastinate.”

If you’re struggling to manage your time and would like our time expert Michael Heppell to give you a helping hand, simply email us at [email protected] for your very own time makeover.