When it comes to time management for leaders, having a to-do list is a great way to organize your thoughts and your tasks for the day. By physically looking over what all you need to do, it makes it easier to stay productive and knock out tasks one by one. No matter how fantastic your memory is, once you become so engulfed with a specific topic or task, the likelihood of you forgetting what else needs finishing grows, which means you might not complete a necessary task until days later (if you remember at all).
A to-do list is a nice start for improving your work, chores, or anything else you simply need to get done. You shouldn’t stop there though. Instead, you need to take your to-do list and improve upon it, because chances are, if you are just making a list and that is it, there is an easy mistake you are probably making.
Time Management For Leaders: The Easiest Mistake With To-Do Lists
Having a list is one thing, but you need to prioritize it. Everyone loves a good list, whether it is a list online, top 10 on a late night talk show or ranking top college football programs. Lists do well just about anywhere. However, you need a clear favorite and each entry behind it is slightly less important.
If you are not prioritizing, you are cheating yourself out of important work. With the to-do list you’re already half way there. Instead, if you simply create a list and that is it, chances are you just start at the top and work your way down.
The only real order in this is the order you remembered everything. It is possible something at the very bottom of the list is the most important task on the list, yet it has the potential of not being finished at all. This is exactly why prioritization is so important with your list.
How to Prioritize
With everything written out on your list, you need to look at what is the most important and what is least important. Start to reorganize the list this way. Now, as you go, you may find some of the tasks are equally as important as others. That is alright for now. Just organize it as best you can with this first bit of criteria.
From here, look at what needs to be done first. If you have several items on your to-do list of equal importance, but one has a sooner deadline, bump that one up to a higher spot on the list. This way, you tackle it sooner, which allows you more time to complete it before the deadline.
Jobs and work with upcoming deadlines should normally be rated higher on your prioritization list, because you don’t want to fall behind and miss the crucial deadline. If you do, everything else is put off and you essentially must stop work on everything else until the one task is complete.
The last step you need to perform with your to-do list is to take the job that requires the most amount of time and push it higher up on the list. Perhaps you have two jobs of equal importance with a similar deadline. If one takes longer than the other, knock out the one that takes the most amount of time first. This way, when you are done, you can breeze through the other jobs faster.
The Importance of a To-Do List
Having a to-do list is great. Whether it is a weekly to-do list, tasks you need to do over the weekend, or a daily recipe for success, a to-do list is important. You just need to improve upon it.
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