The to-do list is one of the most basic methods used by just about all professionals to stay on track of the variety of tasks on their plate. But not all to-do lists are as helpful as others. In fact, sometimes the way we create and use our to-do lists can actually be slowing us down. If you want to supercharge this classic organization method into one that helps propel you forward, here are a few things to consider:
Most of us know how it feels to start the day with a mile-long to-do list. It can be stressful and overwhelming. And it’s even worse when we check in with that list at the end of the day and feel like we haven’t made a dent. Giving yourself a manageable to-do list is key to making it work for you. When you include ten things you know you won’t get to, you’re setting yourself up to feel frustrated and disappointed. Instead, try to keep your list from growing out of control and keep it to the things you truly intend to do.
The above is much easier to do when you have a clear timeframe in mind for your list. This is where a daily to-do list can be so helpful. You can be minimal and include only what you plan to get to that day. If there are major tasks you know you need to complete but won’t finish today, don’t include them. Instead, include the components you will likely be able to complete today. That way, you’ll feel the satisfaction of making progress, not the disappointment of leaving it on your list for another day.
Rather than just a list of tasks, your to-do list can also help direct your workflow. When you prioritize your list and keep your most important tasks at the top, you’d better know where to direct your energy throughout the day. Even though all of our to-dos feel important, some can double function as distractions. We might not really need to do them today, and we let them stand in the way of our completing more important, challenging tasks. By prioritizing your to-do list, you help yourself stay on track. If those top items aren’t done, it’s worth checking in on why you’re working on lower priority tasks and see if you should switch your focus. Priorities can change throughout the day, but this way, you stay in control of where your focus is going.
One way to take all the strategies and combine them into one is to create a system for yourself. This might look a bit different from person to person depending on what makes sense in your work life, but the main idea here is to look at the bigger-picture system of how you create and use to-do lists. For example, you might consider having a master list where you store all your to-dos. Anything that pops up, you can add to this list, but it isn’t something you consult throughout the day. Instead, you might start each morning by scanning that master list and making a shorter, prioritized list for the day ahead. You might also find it useful to do that same thing on a weekly scale, creating a to-do list each Monday for the week ahead. You decide on the timeframe and types of lists that work for you. But building out a system will help you maximize the support of your to-do lists.
Do you find yourself using to-do lists? Is this just a default method for you, or is it actively supporting your success? If you’re interested in discussing this and other methods to stay organized and productive in your mortgage business, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d be happy to set up a time to connect.
VP – Retail Market Leader