Updated: Jul 21, 2021
I have always been a huge advocate of knowing oneself better. This includes knowing if you are a morning person, afternoon person or an evening person such that you can maximize your days and get more out of your workday. In a later post, I will speak about how you can know what time of the day is most productive for you. For today, let us focus on creating effective to-do lists.
We all know that to-do lists are some of the most used and wonderful productivity tools we have at our disposal. As we grow in our careers, we keep getting busier and before we know it, our work schedules can easily get out of hand. If we are not careful, we can easily lose control over our lives.
In November 2020, I got promoted into a management position and before I could even settle in, my schedule was way out of hand. My old method of randomly adding task at hand to my to-do list was no longer effective. It is only then that I realized I had to come up with a new way of creating my to-do lists if I wanted to be more productive.
Here’s a list of the different types of tasks I now ensure to add to my to-do lists to maximize my productivity. With these, I can create a more engaging and productive to-do list for my work.
Quick win task: One of the first things I ensure to add to my to-do lists are quick win tasks. These are tasks I know can either be completed in the shortest time possible or tasks that must be completed that very day. I always start with a small quick win task at the beginning of my day. Completing it not only gets me more energized to do more but makes me feel better because it provides a sense of accomplishment at the start of the day. When I have a lot of potential quick win tasks, I will try to space them out either throughout the week or throughout the day such that I can keep benefitting from the energy that comes from finishing them off. Some examples of quick win tasks from my work include replying to an email, scheduling a meeting, signing, or approving some things, completing an accountability etc.
Learning or growth task: Additionally, I try to learn something new every day to improve my knowledge, skills and competence in a specific knowledge area or skill. For the past two years, I have been learning Spanish, so I have a Spanish lesson or two added to my daily to do list. I also read a book chapter per day. Having a learning task or goal helps me ensure that I am growing daily, keeps me energized and is also a good way to take a break from either a meeting or hard-core technical tasks.
Meetings: Meetings also appear on my to-do list especially because my current job role is remote, and I need to continually engage with the various members of my team. Being a morning person, I try to schedule all my meetings in the afternoons and evenings such that I can maximize the morning for tasks that need my total concentration.
Technical tasks: Finally, I ensure to have technical tasks on my to-do lists. In my line of work, this may include writing a literature review, compiling a report, doing data analysis, reviewing, and commenting on a report or other document etc. Generally, these are tasks that need my full attention. I usually ensure to do these in the morning since that is my most productive time. Typically, I try to keep it at a maximum of 2-3 technical tasks per day and spread them out across my work week.
Overall, I schedule out these different tasks in a way that helps me maximize my productivity and keeps me engaged. Here is how my typical to- do list will look like:
Quick win task
Quick win task
Quick win task
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About the Author:
Productivity Coach at Eaglelite Associates