Yesterday was a terrible day for productivity. I only checked off one thing on my to-do list and spent the rest of the day procrastinating. This made me feel anxious for the rest of the day. I realised that I don't put enough effort into formulating my to-do lists- as they are way too vague. So when I sit down to do a certain task, I don't know where to start. As a result I delay my work and procrastinate and in doing so make myself more and more anxious.
So I did some research on the best way to make a to-do list.
This involves setting S.M.A.R.T goals. I think the first time I heard about this was in ‘Life Orientation’ in school. (I'm surprised I remember anything from that subject). Smart goals are a great way to organise your to-do list.
Here’s how to apply the S.M.A.R.T acronym to goal-setting:
- S- Specific - don't be vague. Be explicit about what you need to do, and outline each step you need to take to reach this goal. For example, instead of writing “do blog post” , say “research to-do lists and write blog based on research”
- M- Measurable - give yourself a way to check that you've done the task successfully. For example, by saying “today I will read two chapters of a book” instead of just listing: “read book”.
- A- Achievable - set realistic goals. Set goals that you can accomplish in one day. If there are big complicated tasks, break them down into simpler, more manageable tasks.
- R- Realistic - Prioritize your goals by listing them in order of importance. Ask yourself: if I could do just one thing today, what would it be? Do that task first.
- T- Time bound - set realistic time frames for each task. I do this by putting each task in a spreadsheet with 30 minutes intervals. Google sheets has a schedule template that is easy to customise and helps you set time constraints for each task on your to-do list.
It's also important to formulate your lists in an easily accessible place, I use an app called Google Keep. Google Keep syncs with all my devices, allowing me to access my to-do lists from any of them. It furthermore allows me to colour code and add tags for different lists.