If you know me personally, you’ll know that I am a very productive, efficient and organised person.  If I had a penny for each time someone said to me:  “I don’t know where you find the time to do everything you do.”

Being productive means being organised

Well, I am going to let you in on a secret.  I follow a very easy formula.  And if you follow it, you’ll be productive too:

    colourful-written-to-do-list
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  1. Write a list.  You are far more likely to do things when they’re on a list
  2. Number your list.  It makes it easier to cross-reference things later when you list gets longer
  3. Keep the list tidy.  It is much easier to work off a list that the easy to read – especially if you expect anyone else to use the list too.
  4. Be disciplined.  Get into the habit of writing things onto your list as soon as you think of it.
  5. Be consistent.  If you write your list in the same way each time, it becomes easier to read and follow it.
  6. Use colours.  It is generally much easier to see where you area if you use colours and a consistent key.
    • Use a contrasting colour, like red, to tick things off.
    • Put a coloured dot against items on your list that are urgent. It makes them stand out more.
  7. Categorise your list.  If you’re scanning your list, it is easier if you:
    • put each item in a separate category, e.g.:  work, school, kids, building,
    • put the name of the person responsible for getting that item done against it on the right hand side of the page.
    • you could colour code these too, if that will make it visibly easier
  8. Manage your list daily.  Get into the habit of look at and reviewing your list every day.  Make notes against it, so you can remember where you are up to on every item.
  9. No task too small for the list. I add everything on there.  Often we think some jobs are too small to add to the list – which means that those are the very things we forget to do! Add on things like:  post a letter, invite Jack and Jill for dinner, phone auntie Mary or record favourite TV show.
  10. Tick off quick wins.  Ticking things off a list is hugely satisfying.  So take an hour and see how many of the ‘small items’ you can tick off in one night.  You’ll be surprised how much you get done this way.
  11. Make a new list.  When you list becomes too long, most things have been ticked off or it has simply become too messy to manage, it may be better to start a new list.  It does mean that you’ll have to transcribe the open items, but at least you’re starting fresh.

What about using technology or Apps?

There are a number of apps out there that help you to make to-do lists.  And many of them are pretty good.  I use an App called Any.Do which is the only ‘to-do’ App I have been able to use successfully, but I still prefer the old fashioned pen and paper.  
The problem I have with electronic lists, is that it is more difficult to keep a track of the notes, with the ability to scan these over quickly, as well as the quick review each day.  

Hybrid between manual list and Apps

My solution is:  
  • manage to the full list on paper, including all the notes etc; but
  • use the App to transfer the list of things for the day when I am out an about:  shopping, post office, ring someone at a certain time, etc.. That way I have all the information on my phone with me, and I don’t have to lug around a big book.
  • also use the app to add anything when I am out an about, which I will otherwise forget.
I have been using this formula for years, and it has brought me great results.  It can bring you results too, if you try it!

Now you have no excuse – you now know the secret to being more productive …