TO DO LIST TEMPLATE: HOW I EFFECTIVELY ORGANISE MY TASKS
If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I am the time blocking QUEEN. But that doesn’t mean I don’t need a to do list template as part of my strategy.
In this blog post, I’m going to share how I use a to do list template, why I use it and how I use it as a part of my time blocking process.
The aim? To make sure I get everything done.
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WHY IS A TO DO LIST TEMPLATE SO IMPORTANT?
It’s just good practice to put everything you need to do on a list. You need to be able to put it somewhere and get it out of your head so you don’t forget anything.
But you also don’t want to have a to do list that is SO daunting that it stalls any movement from you. You don’t want it to negatively affect how you weight your priorities or schedule your time.
This just means you’ll be paralysed into getting nothing done. And nobody needs that.
I believe a task isn’t worth anything unless it’s been allocated time to get done. So when I know I have to do something, I make an appointment for it on my calendar to be able to follow through for that.
When this is an effective strategy, it can also get carried away. To do lists are not the most effective thing when you’re just brain dumping onto a blank to do list or a to do app. You need to be able to find a solution to organise all of it and prioritise what needs to happen.
What needs to happen by YOU.
BEHIND-THE-SCENES OF MY STRATEGY
I’m going to walk you through an age-old strategy to help with this. It’s called the Ivy Lee Method.
I’m going to show you how I use it so I keep my calendar focused on the most important things possible.
HOW I ORGANISE MY TO DO LIST
If you’re not already familiar, I am a big fan of Asana and this is where my brain dump for tasks go.
I do use a notebook to make one big list and get it all out of my head, but Asana is my main hub. I use it as a major brain dump for stuff to do that needs to get done.
In Asana, I have different projects but I also have a list of tasks that need to get done every day. Most of my tasks in Asana also have a due date, so I can see when I need to get them done.
In the first instance with my braindump, anything I think of gets written down. A daily braindump is always happening so I don’t forget anything.
Sometimes, things will become a big priority or I’ll realise they need to be reverse-engineered because they’re a big project that needs to happen. That’s when I’ll use my to do list template to start scheduling accordingly.
This is something I pretty much know from the top of my brain. I know this has to get done, this has to happen, this has to get done by me, and so that needs to get scheduled.
When something is a priority and I know I need to do it, it gets a deadline in Asana and goes straight to the calendar.
But like I said before, that can sometimes get out of control. So my list in Asana of things I’m either not going to do or I don’t have time to do, still needs to be catered to.
There are a couple of ways I organise this, so let’s break it down.
A Weekly Review
I always do a weekly review where I go over a lot of things. But one of the main things I cover is what’s on my calendar for the next week.
This means I can get an idea of what’s going on, making sure I’m batching my time well. So if I notice I have a lot of coaching calls I think, what else can I do that day that falls under that bucket.
Use the Ivy Lee Method Daily
From there, I use the Ivy Lee Method daily. What this allows me to do is make those game-time decisions the day before where:
Things that need to happen need to be fit in
Things that don’t need to happen can be removed completely
This is how the Ivy Lee Method works and how I integrate it into my daily planning process.
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HOW TO IMPLEMENT THE IVY LEE TO DO LIST METHOD
I do this at the end of every workday, either my quiet time in bed or when I’m wrapping up for the day before I walk my dog and make dinner.
It’s up to you when you do this. A lot of people do it at the end of their workday so they can get ready for the next day.
Here’s how the Ivy Lee Method looks in a to do list template.
#1 | List 6 Most Important Tasks For Tomorrow
First, you’re going to make a list of the 6 things that are the most important to get done tomorrow.
You may find there’s some sort of urgency in these important tasks. You may find these are just important because you know they need to be chipped away at.
Regardless of what your reasoning is, write down 6 things.
Try to limit it. You may decide there’s a better number that works for you, maybe it’s 3 or 7. But try to stay in that realm and don’t go over that amount.
When you think about it, 6 is a lot. If you have six things that take an hour, that’s six hours.
#2 | Order Your List By Importance
Now you’ve got your six items, you’re going to prioritise them by importance.
The reason we’re doing this is the “eat the frog” strategy. You want to get the things done that are the hardest to do as early on in your workday as possible. This means you won’t procrastinate and you also won’t think about doing these tasks during your 3 pm slump (you know that time!)
We want to get them ranked in order of importance so there is no mistaking what you’re going to do tomorrow.
When I do this I’m also looking at my calendar to make sure it’s reflecting what I have on my list. Ideally, they’re very similar and also, some of the most important stuff is going to happen first thing in the morning.
Sometimes the most important thing I do in a day is record a few videos, sitting at my desk with my camera. And honestly? That’s not happening at 6 or 7 am.
Although that might be the most important thing I’m doing, it’s probably not going to happen until I’ve done my hair and make-up, had some cups of tea and finally set up my filming space ready to go.
That takes TIME! And my schedule will reflect that.
But as long as it’s on the to-do list template and it’s on the calendar, I know I’m in good shape.
You may find this happens to you - but I want you to be careful of excuses. Sometimes I will bump my filming and I’ll go, “oops, oops, oops, oops, oh no, I can’t film until 5 pm.”
No. I want to be close to finishing work at 5 pm, not sitting making videos. You can’t let it get too far away from you.
#3 | Start Completing Tasks On Your List (In Order)
Time blocking is my approach to it and hopefully, that works for you too. Because the next day you’re going to go after that list.
If you’re not a time blocker that’s fine, you’ve got that list of six things in order of importance. Your job is to just start with the first one. Do it first, get it done.
For the rest of us, we’re looking at the same list but we’re looking at it in a chronological state, in batches of time and how much blocked off time we need to get the thing done.
The game I like to play is, how fast can I get this done? Even though I’ve blocked a lot of time for it and I need to do the best possible job - I’d love to save myself some time.
So if I blocked out an hour for something, can I get it done in 45 minutes? That means 15 bonus minutes (for me, that usually means 15 bonus minutes of playtime with Lola).
#4 | Move Incomplete Tasks To The Next Day’s List
Let’s say you get to the end of your day and you haven’t finished everything.
Shocker! It happens to the best of us. We never finish our to do lists, do we? 😉
Any leftover items from your Ivy Lee list go to the next day.
When you’re going over your six priorities for the next day, you’re now adding those to the list. The more often you keep passing something off that doesn’t get done, it’s always last priority, it keeps getting moved to the next day - you need to ask yourself some questions.
Why is this on my to do list template?
Am I procrastinating on something I need to get ahead on or is this even something I have to touch?
Why does this have to happen and why does it have to be me?
That’s more of a bonus. But if you just have your 6 things every day and you go after the hardest ones first, you’re going to be in good shape and that’s how the Ivy Lee method can help you.
MY OTHER PROCESSES
Of course, I have a million processes! I’ve got:
And I think I’m still coping 😉
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A FINAL NOTE
Here’s a quote to sum up everything we just went over.
“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I want to hear from you: what challenges are you having with your to do list template? Leave that in the comments below.