Stressed out? Try To-Do-ing

Well, this headline sounds way too pretentious, but I’ve actually got some tips on To-Do-Lists for you that you will find interesting.

First off, I love lists. I love to-do-lists even more. Even though you’ll have to invest some time in writing them and checking off the items, they have tons of benefits. Some of them are that to-do-lists are actually a time saver, they help organizing your life and they provide you a good overview of what has to be done.

Now we’ve got the benefits of our lists out of the way, we can move on to the important stuff:

What makes a good To-Do-List?

  1. Separated to-do-lists are good to-do-lists. You tend to lose the overview you wish to achieve by writing a list when you put everything on one list. I personally have a list for university stuff, work stuff and cleaning stuff.
  2. When you write your list, make sure to leave space for check marks. I find that making a check besides the task I’ve completed is very satisfying and gives you a sense of being rewarded.
  3. Split up large tasks. Make sure to split large tasks into many smaller tasks. For example, if I have to do the washing, I’ll make a bullet point for each load there is to wash and then I’ll even make extra bullet points for putting the clean clothes away. This also works well as a motivator for daunting tasks.
  4. Include as many details as possible. Think, you’ve wanted to call the doctor for weeks but always forgot? Write the number on the to-do-list. Trust me, you’ll call the doctor this time
  5. Include simple tasks like showering or brushing your teeth. This helps keeping your motivation up and you have some simple things you’ll be actually eager to do.

Benefits and basics aside, there are a few other things to consider when writing a working to-do-list:

  • Sequence is not as important as you might think
  • Try and schedule your tasks
  • Rewrite the list if needed
  • Don’t force yourself to do the tasks that have been on the list the longest – try finding out why you haven’t done it yet and how to improve this
  • Mark the most important tasks before scheduling
  • Pick a medium you like

Concerning the first two bullet points: it doesn’t bother me at all that I’ll have to look over the whole list to see what has to be done next. That way I’m able to reread everything and possibly reworking it. As for the last bullet point, I prefer my lists in a notebook or on a piece of paper but maybe writing everything on post its and stacking them is the way to go for you. Of course, you could always digitalize your to-do-lists as well, although I’ll have to admit that this is my least favourite way of doing them.

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