We’ve been taught to make lists for everything. A list of friends you want to invite to your birthday bash, a list of goals to accomplish in your lifetime or even just a grocery list. While many of us are conditioned to write these kinds of lists (even if we don’t always check off all of the tasks), how many of us never make lists, ever?
It might seem hard to believe that this happens in a world so driven by profits, pressure and productivity, but some people have just found other ways to manage their tasks without the need for any kind of list. If you’re one of these people who have managed to find a way of doing so, perhaps through having a good memory or a wonderful support network.
But what if you’ve been struggling lately to manage everything, and would finally like to learn how to become a list person? Here’s four ways from us to get started:
1. Focus on a Limited Number of Tasks
One approach to make sure you focus on what is important is to list three things that you need to do on a given day, and focus only on those, instead of trying to cram as many tasks into one day as possible. If you’re headstrong and eager to try out a more radical approach, you can test out Warren Buffett’s ‘two-list system’.
2. Be Realistic About Timeframes
One of the problems with lists is that we often don’t take into account how long it will take to complete a task. Whilst we might be inspired by the thought of completing everything in one day, the reality is that emergencies and unexpected situations arise, which can throw us off. Giving yourself an estimated timeframe on how long it will task to complete a given task can also give you a sense of empowerment, with the knowledge that you’ve got time to get things done.
3. Prioritise Tasks in Order of Importance
While we might like to write out lists of things to do in the hope that they will all get done, the truth is it’s difficult to accomplish much when we allow unimportant tasks to take precedence over very important ones. One way to do this is to divide your task lists into different sections, and then allocating your list of tasks into the most appropriate categories. These can differ according to what works for you, but could be something simple like monthly, weekly and daily tasks. This process of creating a master task list allows us to put things into perspective, and can also encourage us to complete urgent tasks on time.
4. Be Flexible
Focus is important, but while it can be tempting to live life according to our lists, it’s important to stay flexible. Not allowing for flexibility can create undue stress when other unexpected tasks come up, you get sick, or you need to help a colleague urgently instead of focusing on your own work. However, by creating a master task list, as mentioned above, you can keep tabs on what is important, and will be able to reshuffle your schedule to still complete the most urgent tasks on your list.