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Why You Need a To-Do List – The Ultimate Productivity Hack

When it comes to accomplishing your goals, the biggest threat is procrastination – a lack of urgent action. Procrastination kills more goals than everything else combined. However, the best way to combat this is with a to-do list.

While it might seem simple, a to-do list is something that can change your life. While it is very easy to let procrastination creep in, this can be combated with a to-do list! 

So it is time to bust out your pen and paper (or maybe a digital notebook) and make your to-do list. But first, let’s dive deeper into why they are so effective.

to-do list
Creating a to-do list is the best way to combat procrastination.

The Power of a To-Do List 

The secret to getting things done is not anything fancy. In fact, most of the time it is just about showing up.

In Steve Pressfield’s famous books, The War of Art, he states, “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”

This quote not only applies to art, but extends into everything you try to accomplish. Action is always the answer!

A to-do list helps you know what you need to accomplish. It prompts you towards action and helps you stay motivated.

By having a physical list in front of you every day, you put more effort and action into what needs to get done.

physical to-do list
Having a physical to-do list in front of you is an urgent reminder to get things done!

When you have something staring at you in the face every day with a list of things that need to be done, you will take action towards them.

However, this is easier said than done. If you want to truly get the most benefit possible out of a to-do list, you need some guidelines to make this work.

Best Practices for a To-Do List 

1. Keep a Running List

First, you need to constantly keep a list of things you need to do. The first step is to know what you need to accomplish.

Keep a running list of all the things you need to do. Keep a notebook or use a notes software such as OneNote or even a simple Word document

digital notebook
Using a notes app is a great way to keep track of the tasks you need to accomplish.

The benefits of a physical notebook is there is a connection between physically writing something down and remembering it.

Think back to the times in middle school when your teacher had you write vocabulary words 100 times. The act of physically writing them out helped you remember.

The same is true for your to-do list!

However, there is a downside to using pen and paper. Having a physical notebook limits the searchability and the fact that you always have to have it on you.

This is where software comes in handy! By having a notes software you can easily search and remember what you were writing down.

You can always have it on you and constantly be adding new to-do’s to your list. The added functionality to be able to search your to-do list is a game changer!

2. Prioritize 

Once you have made your list, you now need to prioritize it. Not everything you need to do is crucially important.

Small tasks such as cleaning the counter tops, taking out the trash, and a whole host of other small items that take up your time may not deserve the highest priority. 

In this step, you should prioritize based off a tried and true frame work: Urgency and Importance

Urgent Important Matrix

urgent & important
Understanding what is urgent and important is key to managing your time effectively.

1. You will have tasks on your to-do list that are high urgency and high importance. Execute these now!

Your CEO asks for a report tomorrow, you have a deadline you need to meet today for securing a loan on your house, or your kitchen is on fire.

You cannot wait to act on these. You must take immediate action towards checking these items off your to-do list.

2. Then you have to-do items that are urgent, but not important

These are the trivial tasks that take up a large amount of our time.

These are the to do items that you may be able to delegate. These could be things such as mowing the grass, meal prepping, or even some meetings that you have.

3. Next, are those that are not urgent and not important. These items are tasks that you will want to eliminate.

If something is not urgent and not important then it is not worth your time. Save yourself time and energy and eliminate these unnecessary tasks.

4. The final category are tasks that are not urgent, but are important. These are tasks that you will want to schedule. These help move the needle in the long term and will help you get ahead.

These are things such as career development, getting out of debt, networking, and exercise. Its all the things you know you should do, but could put off until tomorrow. However, they make the biggest difference in your life!

3. Schedule Your Day

The last best practice for your to-do list is to schedule your day. Now that you have a list of items to do and you have prioritized them, it is now time to schedule them.

Scheduling your day allows you to know exactly what you are going to do and when you are going to do it.

urgently plan your time
Use a planner is a phenomenal way to schedule time to complete your tasks.

Often times we do not lack things to do, but we do lack the discipline to schedule when we will do it.

It is easy to slip when you don’t make time for what you need to get done. If you don’t schedule it, you won’t do it.

Most of us live our lives by a calendar. Reminders, notifications, and meetings drive our day-to-day operations.

Schedule your day every week on Sunday or first thing Monday morning. Plan out your entire week and leave a few hours for buffer room, because you know other urgent and important things will pop up. 

Do these steps and you will be on your way to crossing items off of your to-do list and being more productive!

Now is the Time for Action

It is time to utilize the power of a to-do list to your advantage and get things done. In turn, you will be closer and closer to reaching your goals!

Prioritize your list and schedule time to finish these items. Making progress has never been easier. If you follow these steps and stay consistent, you will be amazed by how much progress you will make.

Crush your goals today! Now is the time for action. Go make it happen!

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