Why You Should Use a To-Do list

Do you often find yourself up at night thinking about all of the things you have to do the next day? Or while you are working, you are a multitasking maniac because you all of sudden keep remembering something else that needs to get done? Have you ever forgotten to do something important?

 All of these are symptoms of not keeping a proper to-do list. A common time management mistake is to try to use your memory to keep track of all of the tasks you need to accomplish or the places you need to be every day. I don’t care how good you think your memory is: the fact is that most people simply cannot rely on their memory alone to keep track of everything that needs to get done. 

A To-Do List is simply a list of all the tasks that you need to carry out. The goal of To-Do Lists is to help you get your tasks out of your head and put them into a trusted productivity system where you know that you won’t forget about them and where you can easily find them when you need them. 

Writing down the things you know you need to do frees your mind from having to remember all the little details, will let you sleep more soundly, and will give you a clear direction the next morning when your day starts. 

Keeping a properly structured and thought-out To-Do List sounds simple enough. But it can be surprising how many fail to use To-Do Lists at all, never mind use them effectively. In fact, it's often when people start to use To-Do Lists effectively and sensibly that they make their first personal productivity breakthroughs.

In my 15 years as a coach, I’ve used everything from to-do lists 10 pages long to not using a to-do list at all. And I’ve realized that you need a to-do list. But it needs to be the right kind. Most to-do lists don’t work because they are either too long or too short; not prioritized or too complicated. A to-do list like these will hurt instead of help. 

On the other hand, a well thought out to-do list, prioritized based on your work or personal goals and vision, is an extraordinarily effective way to plan, prioritize, save time and increase your effectiveness. According to Brian Tracy, author of No Excuses, you will likely increase your efficiency by 25 percent the very first day that you start using a list. This means that you will get two extra hours of productive time in an eight hour day from the simple act of making a list of important tasks to do that day before you start work. 

Tracy also says that “you can bring order out of chaos faster with a list than with any other time management tool. It is the most powerful tool ever discovered for maximum productivity.” Writing down the things you know you need to do will give you peace of mind and a clear sense of direction before and after every day of work.  

Trust me, the mental peace you gain by knowing you are so much better organized and that you are not forgetting anything important is so worth the time it takes to figure out how to properly do a to-do list. 

In future blogs, I will talk about how to categorize and prioritize your to-do list to help get you through your to-do list quicker and with more focus on higher value activities. If you categorize and prioritize intelligently, you'll focus your time and energy on high value activities, which will mean that you're more productive, and more valuable to your team.

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Mandy Green is a mother of two and has coached soccer at the collegiate and youth levels for 16 years. She is the creator of Coaching Productivity Strategies and author of The Green Time Management Workbook and Planner for Coaches. Mandy helps coaches prioritize and organize their tasks so they can get more work done in less time.

Release Date: Apr 21 2015

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