Home » Improving Your Time Management With To-Do Lists

With a busy schedule, it can feel impossible to find the energy to stay on top of everything that needs to get done. You don’t want to feel like you’re running behind, but life is full of interruptions, and productivity is tough to track and even tougher to improve. But there’s one age-old tool that can seriously help.

To-do lists are a simple, powerful, effective way to get out of your head, visualize your tasks, and work through them piece by piece. If you can learn the best way to manage your to-do, you can become more productive and more satisfied with your work. Whether if time is of the essences, for many of us, our lives consist of very little to spare, leaving us looking for ways to optimize our task efficiency. Here are some tips for strategies to improve your time management.

Find a Digital To-Do App

There are many online agenda apps to choose from. Most are free, though some charge money to unlock some functionality. Many of these are available on both iPhone and Androiddevices, as well as via web browser. Different products have different features, so you’ll need to do some checking to find one that’s best for your purposes. Here are a few of the best available:

  • Google Keep (free)
  • Asana (free for basic, $9.99 per person per month for a business account)
  • Coorganiz (free for basic, $4.99 per month for premium)
  • Trello (free for basic, up to $20.38 per user per month for Enterprise)
  • TickTick (free for basic, $27.99 a year for Premium)
  • Evernote (free for basic, $7.99 a month for premium plans)
  • Microsoft To-Do (free)

For more information on day by day to-do list apps, click here.

Start Small

Don’t be afraid to put even the tiniest tasks on your list. Whether you need to balance your checkbook, remember to take out the trash at night, or book a monthly staff meeting, nothing is too small to be worth adding some reminders. This process works just as effectively for regular chores as for professional project management.

Including the easy stuff will help you get into a rhythm of adding tasks regularly. It also helps provide a rush of satisfaction each time you check something off. Completing an item feels good. Sure, folding the laundry may not seem like much, but each step is an important part of the path to efficiently manage your time. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but don’t forget it either!

Be Specific

Instead of writing “finish all your reports,” break each report you need to do into an individual entry. Instead of saying “clean the house,” write “clean the living room,” “clean the bathroom,” and “clean the bedroom” each as separate items.

The broader and more general you are in your listing, the easier it is for your brain to look at any given task and begin feeling like it’s too much. Breaking things down into their individual, specific parts gives a sense of progress that feels a lot easier and more efficient.

Order Items Appropriately

One smart plan with any agenda is to put things in order of the urgency with which they need to get done. You might find yourself prioritizing the easiest or most mindless tasks at the top and saving the most time-consuming for the end. Don’t fall into the procrastination trap; instead, decide what must get done soonest, and build from there. Don’t put off the important stuff for days!

In fact, one great way to increase your level of time management efficiency is to begin every day by making sure two or three must-do tasks are at the top of your agenda. Items with deadlines or events that must be urgently completed by certain dates should go here. Consider this handful of assignments the absolute most important priorities to complete today. That way, you can focus on getting those done and not feel awful if you don’t get to other parts.

Keep Multiple Lists

While you may have a lot that needs to get done, there’s no benefit to tracking it all in the same place. You might want to keep separate lists for work and for household chores. Or maybe you want one for daily tasks that backs up into a larger weekly goals overview. This can also help you keep things manageable; a single agenda with more than ten or so items can feel like you’ll never get it done.

To learn more about the best organization habits for to-do lists, click here.

Plan Big

Once you’ve got into the groove of tackling everyday tasks, it’s time to do something bigger. Maybe you’ve been looking for a way to organize a party. Or maybe there’s a huge work event coming up that you’re in charge of scheduling. Whatever the case, a to-do list can help you keep a handle on things, even when you’re overwhelmed by a project.

Keep in mind our guide to organizing above. These rules will especially help with bigger, more interconnected tasks. Just take action part by part, and before you know it, you’ll be done!

Collaborate with Family or Colleagues

Looking at a stacked agenda can make it feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, but there’s no reason you should go it alone. Whether you’re using a digital agenda to organize your home or for work management, it’s worth pulling in other people to delegate some tasks to.

This is especially easy if you’re using one of the apps mentioned above, as all of them have the ability to share lists with multiple users via email, as long as they have a device to access it on. If you need more than just a collection of tasks, you can learn about how to set up a shared calendar. From there, it’s easy to share a calendar between users.

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