July 17, 2019 at 1:44 am #5577StephenKeymaster
Implement a habit of planning your day in advance. This way you know exactly what you should be focusing on when your workday starts. Also, you don’t have to operate from memory, since all the necessary tasks are laid out in front of you.
I have to admit that making a daily task list has been one of the biggest improvements to my productivity. Since I know the tasks I should be doing, I
don’t waste my time on unessential stuff.
To get started with this new habit, just pick a piece of paper or choose a task list program for storing your task list. Then, write down three important tasks for the next day and prioritize them to the beginning of the workday. Also, add some lower-priority tasks to your list too, to make sure you make progress on every level (not just on those important tasks).
Once you have picked the tasks you are going to do, do some necessary prep work related to them. For instance, you could make sure that all the
documents are easily accessible the next day when you start working. Or, if you are about to write something, you could plan the outline the day before.
With this extra step, you can get started with your tasks much quicker. Besides, you can focus on working on your assignments instead of wasting
time finding the necessary materials or items you need. There are still two other things you could do to make sure your task list is as
effective as possible.
First, make your list closed. This is what Mark Forster, the author of Do It Tomorrow, suggests in his book. A closed task list means that you decide not to add any new tasks to your list, even if something new comes up in the middle of the next day. To mark the list as closed, all that is required is to draw a solid line under the last item on your task list.
However, if you have an open list, you end up clearing tasks off your list while adding some new ones to it as the day goes by. Not only do you make it harder to get all the tasks cleared off by the end of the day, this practice is also demotivating; no matter how hard you work, the number of tasks never decreases (and sometimes you even end up with more tasks on your list than what you started out with).
Drawing a physical line after the last task works fine with paper-based task lists. However, with a task list application, you have to make this line
“virtual.” In other words, you make a decision to not add any more tasks to your list in the middle of the workday.
The second thing is to “become a pessimist” when your tasks are concerned. For instance, I’m a very positive and optimistic person by nature, but a bit of pessimism helps me with my task list planning for the next day. When I notice that my task list is going to be filled with too many tasks for
one day, I say to myself, “Well, I don’t necessarily have time for this task. And perhaps it’s the same thing with this other task too.” With this approach, I’m deliberately cutting the number of tasks off my next day’s list, while increasing the likelihood of finishing all the planned work the
If you decide to apply the previous strategy, just make sure to have some back-up work ready, in case you manage to clear your list before the workday ends. For instance, right now (at the time of writing this paragraph) it seems that I’ll be able to clear my task list for today well ahead of time. But since I still have some extra time left, I’ll keep writing this report a little bit more.
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