5 Ways to Make an Effective “To Do” List

The to-do list—our best friend and worst nightmare all wrapped into one. We buy the most loveliest notebooks or notepads and dive into creating those lists like the productive queens we all are.

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We've all been there. We sit down to organize and design our to-do lists for the day and begin to check off those action items one by one as the day goes on. BAM! Something comes up and you have to shift some priorities around. Without a proper plan of action on how to move fluidly through your lists, you’ll come to feel uneasy and disorganized. To minimize the overwhelming feeling amidst the day-to-day chaos, we’ve curated five tips on how to own your to-do lists like the boss you are:

1. Organize tasks by priorities.

This may sound simple but it really does play an important role in how you work. Start with the most time sensitive and work your way to the more flexible tasks. Here at Ace we prioritize by classifying things as our Box 1 (Urgent + Important), Box 2 (Not Urgent but Important), Box 3 (Urgent + Not Important) and Box 4 (Not Urgent + Not Important). Categorizing your tasks visually this way will not only help you compartmentalize what you need to get done but it will also show your team transparency on where your priorities are. Do this for both your week and for each day to keep yourself plugging away towards your goals.

Pssst… Members, you have a priority matrix ready to download in the member's portal. Learn more about how to become a member here.

2. Group tasks within similar themes.

Ever do the whole, “close tab, open tab, close tab, shit I’m lost in my tabs, oh wait found it” dance? We know this all too well. You try to do multiple things at once and get lost in the process. This does not help your mind zone into what needs to be done and is actually counterproductive. Start with categorizing your tasks and then grouping them together within similar themes. I.e. emails, design tasks, writing tasks, social media tasks, etc. are all grouped within their own sub-tasks. Chances are these all take different parts of your brain to execute so choosing to work on similar tasks will help focus your mind and in turn lead to higher productivity.

3. Do the hard things first.

Whether or not you're a morning person, most of us have more energy earlier in the day. Our minds are fresh, rested and ready to create. Take advantage of this by doing the hard things that take the most time and energy first. Your mind will thank you. This is going to be a hard shift if you are notorious to working your way up to the hard tasks by ticking off the smaller items first. But trust us when we say, it's worth it. You can create a little incentive program to keep yourself on track, too: “If I do X, I'll treat myself to Y.”

4. Be realistic with your lists.

Ever create a list with overly optimistic goals and feel like you fell short at the end of the day as a result? We get it - you want to crush as much as you can in one day. But, slow down. Create realistic timelines to set yourself up for success. Dissect a task by thinking about how much energy is required to get it done. This will help your creative juices flow more naturally without the pressure.

5. Time block your calendar.

Carving out the space for each task on your list helps separate your thoughts in an organized, efficient way. Simply block off that space in your calendar and refer to #4 on how much time you need to block off for each. Block in your breaks as well so that you are taking the time you need to recharge and reset before bouncing to the next task. Make it pretty to look at by adding some colours and emojis. We know that it’s the little things that bring us the most joy, right?