Nearly everyone has struggled with being productive and getting stuff done. However, some people also struggle with figuring out what they need to do. While there are a variety of productivity hacks, no skill can beat making a to-do list to complete your tasks for the day, week, or month. To-do lists help you organize, prioritize and cross off the jobs you’ve completed (the most rewarding part!).
First and foremost, lists create order in our lives. This is a much-needed order since the human brain is limited with how much it can take on and process at a time, and breaking down tasks and prioritizing them daily can help prevent burnout. When unfulfilled goals persist in our minds, it’s impossible to be productive, so committing to one goal at a time can help increase our productivity.
There are many known benefits of organizing your environment. These benefits also apply to organizing your priorities in the form of lists. Organizing your life improves sleep quality, sleep hygiene, reduces stress, improves relationships, reduces depression and anxiety, reduces burnout, reduces feelings of overwhelm, and helps with productivity. Every time you check something off your list, you’re also given a small jolt of dopamine, which translates to you needing less willpower to get things done. Moreover, organizing your life and being on top of your tasks can help you find balance in your social and work life, which is fundamental for your overall well-being.
How one goes about creating a to-do list will vary from person-to-person, and will depend on what works best for each individual. Below are some tips that generally work for everyone.
1. Write your to-do list the day before
2. Add a date to your to-do list
3. Prioritize your tasks depending on how important they are. You can also categorize your tasks (e.g. school, work, chores, and errands)
4. Check items off once they are complete
5. Have a to-do list for each day, do not write everything you have to do in one sitting for an entire month
6. Remember to take breaks between tasks
To-do lists fundamentally operate as a compass. It is undeniable that there is something powerful about putting what we need to do on a piece of paper in the form of a list. Putting together a to-do list can increase our productivity, and this sense of order creates structure and keeps us in check with our tasks and goals.