How to Increase Productivity Using To-Do Lists

Increase Productivity (Image by Dominik Gwarek)
Increase Productivity (Image by Dominik Gwarek)

Increase Productivity by Being More Efficient

There usually seem to be more things that need doing at work than can be accomplished in a normal day. You have the choice of working longer hours or becoming more efficient. The better choice is to be more efficient at work.

You may be able to delegate some work to others but many tasks usually remain that you’ll need to accomplish yourself. Using daily to-do lists is a simple but proven method of increasing your personal productivity or efficiency. It may take getting used to doing a list every day, but once mastered productivity will be increased and every day you'll accomplish more than you used to.

Increase Performance by Becoming More Effective

Besides helping you become more efficient, preparing daily to-do lists can help you be more effective, too. Greater efficiency means getting more tasks done in a day. Greater effectiveness results from getting the highest priority tasks completed each day. In being more effective your job performance will increase and you will merit more responsibility, more income, or, hopefully, both.

Prepare To-Do Lists Every Day to Increase Productivity

Here is a simple six-step process to follow in preparing your daily to-do lists:

  1. Either the night before or first thing in the morning prepare your to-do list.
  2. Review your previous day’s to-do list and include any tasks left undone.
  3. Prioritize your tasks by importance and urgency. Ask your boss or a colleague for help if you need it in deciding on priorities.
  4. Sort your to-do list by priority.
  5. Put an estimated time required next to the first three to five tasks.
  6. Do the tasks in the order of priority, completing each one before tackling the next.

This process will get easier the more you do it. The key thing is to make it a daily habit.

Allow for Emergencies and New Priorities

Things often happen in the workplace that make plans and to-do lists for the day obsolete. Emergencies of one kind or another crop up and demand your time and attention. Hot new priorities arise because of opportunities or threats. Or your boss or client wants you to do something right away. Maintain a flexible mind and a positive attitude and adapt effectively to changes to keep your productivity high.

Learn to Use Goals and Action Plans to Achieve More

Many items on your daily to-do list could reflect goals and action plans that are:

  • Directed at high performance in the workplace
  • Or for your personal development 

Research shows that people who set goals accomplish more than those who don’t. See the Hub on how to set and achieve personal goals for detailed information on how goals and action plans work. The point is that if you do set goals and develop strategies and action plans, your daily to-do lists should be implementing them.

Learn to set goals that will help you achieve what you want or need to accomplish, and then create strategies, action plans, and to-do lists to be productive in achieving them.

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7 comments

ReggieD06 profile image

ReggieD06 6 years ago

Rob,

Thanks for the great post. I practice these time management skills on a daily basis. As you said, it makes a huge difference. I liken it to going to the grocery store with a shopping list versus going without one. Oftentimes if I fail to take a list, I come back with things I don't need. In addition, I may very well not get the number one thing I went to get in the first place.

Keep up the great writing.

Reggie.


Rob McKelvie profile image

Rob McKelvie 6 years ago from USA and UK Author

Thanks for your kind words, Reggie! Congratulations to you for practicing time management successfully. It's easier said than done and people who can make it a habit like you have are very productive and very special.


m920621m profile image

m920621m 6 years ago from UK

Hey Rob, thanks for a very useful hub!

I've been compiling those to-do lists for almost a year now. Day in and day out. And I've seen an enormous improvement. I'm always thinking how to make this method even more efficient so recently I started setting deadlines on each task. I find it helps me to concentrate better and fulfil each task faster.

Thanks again for a great hub.


Rob McKelvie profile image

Rob McKelvie 6 years ago from USA and UK Author

Thanks for your comment, m92. Good for you in setting deadlines that make you even more efficient. That's a great idea. My deadlines are the day I assign for the tasks but I do sometimes write down an estimated time for each task when there is a lot to be done.

Thanks again!


selfbetter profile image

selfbetter 5 years ago

Besides daily planning what really helps me to be more productive is setting specific times when the tasks will be accomplished. Obviously we need to be flexible but for me at least, if I don't plan when something will be done, it usually never ends up happening.


VJGSA profile image

VJGSA 2 years ago from Texas

Excellent stuff. I usually make my list for the next day's work the evening before I leave for home. On the drive home, I mentally make a list of things to do when I get home. Making lists, some may say, is a bit obsessive, but I find that it relieves my mind of "what to do next" because I've already created a list.


Rob McKelvie profile image

Rob McKelvie 2 years ago from USA and UK Author

Agree about making lists in advance of the work day. Great idea using your commute home to rehearse what you'll do once home. Planning tasks like you're doing is one of the best keys to success, I believe. Thanks for your contribution!

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