Get it done! A Student’s Guide to An Effective To-do List

Okay, so you’re bombarded with God-knows so many things to do and you have less than 24 hours before you’re greeted by the next day. We totally get it. All of us have had our fair share of busy days where in you’re done doing one thing and then you immediately have to do the next.

It’s hard to rely on one’s memory and so we have come up with a compiled list on how to customize your own to-do list and increase your productivity.

1. Choose a comfortable medium.
You’ve decided to do your To-do list but now the question is: “what effective medium to use?” Everyone is different; so if you’re more into practicing your handwriting skills on paper, writing your to-do list either on a small notebook or a sticky-note is the go-to method. But if you’re more tech-savvy and prefer to type your To-do list down, then you can make use of the built-in apps in your phone (whether android or IOS). These task management apps also have alarms to remind you when you’re supposed to do a certain task and so it’s always best to do your list at least the night before.

2. Learn how to prioritize.
Not all the things that you have to do have the same level or urgency and importance. To be able to identify what to do first, we recommend using Eisenhower’s “Urgent/Important” Principle. The image below depicts a certain format or matrix (as it is often called) that can be followed in assessing the things you have to do. The matrix will help deal with urgent tasks and prepare for the upcoming ones.

To use the matrix properly, list down both your “urgent and important” tasks (first priority) at the top left box. For the bottom left box which is the “urgent but not important” category, you may opt to delegate these tasks to someone your trust. The upper right box is also a list of important tasks but they are not urgent so you may spread them out and put them on a better scheduled time or date. Lastly, the bottom right box is the list of tasks that are neither important nor urgent and can be just done during your own leisure time.


3. Make Your List Short and Concise.
No one has superpowers. You may be the best at multitasking and getting stuff done but writing down a very long list and attempt to accomplish all of them within a day may be too idealistic. Although this may depend on how much effort and time the tasks will need, estimating each task is a helpful way of reducing the overwhelming pressure of accomplishing your list. Put down the doable ones, give each at least a 10 to 20 – minute allowance (because you can never avoid unforeseen events) then save some for tomorrow.


4. Specify Your Actions.
The wording on your list may provide you with some motivation to get them done. What was previously written as, “Do assignment for Science,” for example, can be improved as “Research about the discovery of the atom” or “Buy materials for Art Class” to “Buy pencil, paint and paintbrush.” Always remember that your To-Do list is there to make your life easier and not play a guessing game with you.

5. Take A Breather.
Give yourself a pat on the back! Every task done is a feat and for those who are not used to keeping a list may eventually find the satisfaction of ticking the small box at the side. For every task done, give yourself some time to breathe and relax to ready yourself for the next box on your list. Take a little time to assess and evaluate how you did for the recently finished task.  So grab a snack or a drink. Sit down for a short while then when you’re good to go, give it your best!


6. It’s not about the quantity but the quality.
The amount of things you do in one day does not completely decide your level of productivity. You may have done a lot but if they are just the usual and mundane activities you do on a daily basis, then that defeats the purpose of having a To-Do List. Don’t waste your time just doing the smallest and easiest things and focus on finishing the hard, big-impact tasks that will give you more satisfaction and a great sense of accomplishment.

 

Bibliography:

“Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle Using Time Effectively, Not Just Efficiently.” www.mindtools.com, Mind Tools Editorial Team, www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_91.htm. Accessed 1 Sept. 2017.

Castagnac, Fred. “5 Practical Ways to Make Your To-Do List Work.” www.lifehack.org, www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/5-practical-ways-make-your-list-work.html?ref=category_section_post_4. Accessed 1 Sept. 2017.

Loder, Vanessa. “Five Best To-Do List Tips.” Www.forbes.com, 2 June 2014, www.forbes.com/sites/vanessaloder/2014/06/02/five-best-to-do-list-tips/#c17448d651b3. Accessed 1 Sept. 2017.

Pahwa , Divya. “How to Write an Effective To-Do List.” Www.psychcentral.com, 9 Sept. 2013, psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/09/09/how-to-write-an-effective-to-do-list/. Accessed 1 Sept. 2017.

Comments are closed.