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10 Tips for Checking Things Off Your To-Do List

Like every other mortal, I’m inclined to sit in front of my TV and binge Netflix for hours on end. I love my couch. So, like many people, it can be a struggle to get up, get going, and knock those things off my to-do list.

Here are my favorite strategies for both getting stuff done – and enjoying more time to sit on that couch!

  1. Know – and work with – your priorities. As Erin Falconer says in her book How to Get Sh*t Done, the first thing you must consider when trying to be more productive is who you as a person, your priorities and values. From there, you can figure out where you want to go.
  2. Build a regular routine. Build a simple routine so that your mental energy can get redirected to actually getting things done. For instance, I figure out what I’m going to wear the next day right after changing into my pajamas. I spend less time considering what to wear – and more time on my couch.
  3. Don’t try to remember things – write them down. I have a horrible memory, but even if you don’t, why waste energy trying to remember things? Write notes, make to-do lists. Word to the wise, though. Put everything in consolidated lists and locations. Otherwise you’ll just wind up in post-it note hell.
  4. Pick daily priorities. These are the tasks you focus on that particular day. For my personal projects, I pick three or four things that I can reasonably get done that day, given all the activities I have planned. If I can, I get to the other things, but otherwise, I know where to focus my energy.
  5. Split up tasks into manageable chunks. So many people put off doing things until the last minute – or just continually – because the task is huge and intimidating. Try splitting that big task up into its component parts. Take a day, a week or two before something is due, and separate the task into smaller bits, creating an outline of all the things you need to do. Each day do a bit of that outline, and before you know it, it’s done!
  6. Put task items on your calendar. Every day has a list of tasks I need to get done. If a day is jam packed, I work on quick tasks that day. This way I can narrow in on only the tasks I need to do that day, rather than worrying about tomorrow’s tasks.
  7. If it can be done in 3-5 minutes, do the task as soon as you get it. Got a request to forward an email to someone? Don’t wait, just do it right there.
  8. Do the thing you really don’t want to do first. You won’t want to do it later, so why wait? There is no benefit to holding off on that tough task until you are tired from doing everything else. Just do it now and get it done with.
  9. Block out time on your calendar. I usually do this at the start of the day, though you will see suggestions to do this the end of the day before so you can start the new day knowing what you’re walking in to. This helps me keep track of what I should be working on at any given time.
  10. When you are done – be done. Every day, once you are satisfied you have worked on your priorities and tasks for that day, your next task is to relax. It’s why we’re trying to be more productive, isn’t it? To have more time to relax? I’ll be on couch.

For about a bajillion (okay, 500+) discrete and actionable hacks to build upon the tips above, I highly recommend Productivity Hacks by Emily Price. For instance, she suggests giving each day a theme so “it’s easier to create your schedule for the week, stay on task, and make sure none of the aspects of your job are overshadowed by another.” As a person who adores theming things, I love this tip! It makes productivity even – dare I say it? – a bit fun.

For more productivity tips check out these books: 

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