Making a list and checking it twice

Making a to-do list is critical to getting the right things done. I have had days where I have gotten a ton of stuff done, but it was all little fires that cropped up that day – it wasn’t what I wanted to get done. Why? Typically because I didn’t create my to-do list before the fires started.

The problem is there are as many ways to create a to-do list as there are things to do.

One expert I know says he writes down 3 things to do at the beginning of his day. If he finishes all three, he writes down another three.  Other experts will tell you to write down what you think you would like to get done and then prioritize the list. Then there are all of the hacks to make sure you follow your list.

For me the little psychological tricks of scratching things off a list and being able to shout to the heavens that YES I FINISHED MY TO DO LIST! that are supposed to inspire you don’t work.

I keep a master list, and each morning I select things to do from that master list, and I add anything new that I can think of. The resulting list is usually anywhere from 5 to 10 items long. I will often move what I consider the three most important things to the top of the list. 

I don’t care if I get through the whole list. I need to know (and not forget – hence the master list) what is on my plate. I know my deadlines, and I execute accordingly. I also need the flexibility to pick and choose from my to-dos when I encounter a delay on a project. I don’t need to spend time agonizing over which task is more important, or if this one is an A or a B priority. 

So how do you do your to-do list?

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