Create a Task List to Help Manage Your Time

Written by geordiejimb

Topics: Articles, Time Management

where does the time goDo you ever find yourself getting ready to end your day and suddenly realize you forgot to do something important?

I can’t recall how many times that has happened to me in the past – forgetting to return a client phone call, set my out-of-office message, keep that appointment, or send that last status report before going on vacation… I’ve done them all.

The solution I found was I’ve always used, I just wasn’t using it right – the trusty old to-do list, or task list.

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The Task List

Do you keep a list?  A list of all the things you want to get done at some point, perhaps today, tomorrow, next week or at some undetermined point in the future?

How do you store your list?  I’ve used note pads, sticky notes, text documents, outlook tasks, excel spreadsheets, and whiteboards – over the years I’ve tried a lot of different ways to track and manage my to-do list, each with varying levels of success.

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How To Maintain a Task list:

Organize tasks similar to how you organize your life – have work related tasks on one list, home related tasks on another.  You might go further and split the home tasks in home-improvement tasks, hobbies, family time, etc or whatever categories suit your lifestyle.

Clearly define the task to be done – don’t just say ‘Go grocery shopping’, make an actual list of what items you need at each store.

Break up bigger tasks into smaller actionable tasks – if your list looks something like ‘Build a Shed’ it’s probably too big for a single task.  Try cutting tasks down into smaller tasks that can be completed in just a few hours.

Estimate how long the task will take – knowing how long a task will take will help determine when the task can be done, and how many tasks you might get done in whatever time you have allotted.

Prioritize the task – know which items are the most important, no matter if it’s a 5 minute thing or several hours, always schedule the important tasks first and make sure these are your priority.

Give the Task a Deadline – knowing when something needs to be done adds an accountability element.  Work tasks typically always have to be done on time, whereas home or hobby based tasks can typically be done at a more relaxed pace.  In both cases set deadlines and stick to them.

Schedule time for each task – Try to schedule tasks as much as possible, determine which days you will set aside for the biggest tasks and fit the smaller tasks into the gaps.

This might seem like a lot of overhead, but as you become more familiar with doing it you will find it soon becomes a habit and the benefits of a well organized task list will far outweigh the overhead of keeping one this way.

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