Keeping a list of tasks and action items is essential for productivity. When you write down the things you need to do and keep them in a central location, you don’t need to spend brainpower thinking about them. It’s a huge time saver.
What to put on your lists? Anything and everything from meetings, assignments and deadlines, to professional tasks and personal errands. You can include action items for prospects, clients, and more.
As a solopreneur, I divide my list by client tasks, appointments and freelance assignments. I also keep a list of planned weekly blog posts, social media updates and website changes as well as outreach tasks (pitches, relationship development and follow-up), upcoming events and personal projects.
Here are a few ways to organize your lists, so you stay on track.
Paper Lists: Keep a dedicated notebook only for your ToDos. At the start of every week, write your master list. Then, as each day passes, add any other items and check things off as you do them. And if you do something that’s not on the list, add it and check it off so you get that burst of satisfaction. The reason I say check things off, rather than cross them out, is that way you can track your accomplishments throughout the week.
Digital Lists: Same concept as the paper lists. Just use a dedicated word-processing document rather than a central notebook. I prefer the simplicity of this method although you can also use an online task management tool such as Trello.
Calendar Lists: This is the method I use. Every week (on Sunday night) I make an appointment in my electronic (Google) calendar with my ToDo list for the week, which includes a section for ongoing tasks. Throughout the week, as I set appointments or get new assignments, I add them to the list. Also, instead of deleting completed tasks, I write DONE in all caps as I accomplish them. At the end of the week I copy the list and paste it into next week’s appointment. Then I delete the DONEs, and add any new items for the week.
ToDo lists are great. Just remember one thing. They only work if you read them.
Debra Eckerling is the founder of WriteOnOnline.com, a website and community for writers, and author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog. A Project Catalyst, Debra works with individuals and small businesses to strategize, set goals, and manage their projects.