Man checking things off of a to-do list.

We’ve all been there. It’s usually a Monday. You’re swamped with work, and it seems like you’ll never be able to get everything done in time. And you haven’t even looked at your emails yet. It’s a stressful scenario to be in, and almost everyone has been there. So what solution is there? Unfortunately there is no way to make all of the work to disappear, but you can control how you deal with it. Utilizing a to-do list will help you organize your work, and tackle it efficiently. Also, a to-do list will help you feel accomplished as you get work done. Today we’ll be discussing why you should be using a to-do list, and the various options that are available to you.

Why You Should To-Do It

To-do lists are a valuable tool, no matter the day. I say this as I type up this blog, eager to cross it off my list. So you may be wondering, what’s the big difference? What does it matter if I write it down or just do it? There is a bit of psychology at work, and also some organizational benefits. Before exploring the psychology, lets look at the immediately recognizable benefits.

For starters, using a to-do list will help you better realize what you have to accomplish. Having everything laid out in front of you makes it much easier to process. You can easily judge what items you should prioritize, and how much time you should dedicate to each task. So instead of haphazardly alternating between tasks, you can coordinate a plan of attack. If you want to go even further, you can jot down how much time you think each task will take, and plan your day out accordingly. Instead of being overwhelmed by everything you have to get done, putting it on a list gives you control over it.  This begins to delve into the psychological benefits.

By having everything on paper, you feel more control over it, and can feel less anxious about it. Some people believe using a list will stifle their creativity. However, usually all it does is free up more time to be creative. By focusing on what you need to do, it’s easier to move through tasks, even if you want to approach them in a less structured way. Perhaps the most important factor, and the biggest payoff, is being able to cross things off the list. Obviously you still feel a sense of accomplishment even without a list, but having one magnifies that effect. It’s empowering to see things slowly get ticked off of your list, and feel a sense of progression. Once you get started, it makes you want to continue pushing forward, and make more progress.

Getting Started

So now that you know the benefits, you’re probably wondering exactly how you can implement one. Thankfully, you have a lot of options. You can do something incredibly simple, or implement a more complex system. It all depends on what you want! We have a few suggestions for different approaches, and the first is the simplest.

  • A written list: Whether it’s on a notepad or a sticky note, just jot down everything you have to do, and start knocking things off that list!
  • Email Inbox w/ Flags: If you have a well organized inbox, it’s possible to leave your items you have to do in there, and sort them out only when they are completed. Outlook also allows you to flag items and give yourself deadlines on emails. You can even give them green check marks when they’re all done! Pretty helpful!
  • Digital List: We live in the age of the app, and there are many options out there. If you’re looking for some free or low cost options, check out Trello, ToodleDo, or Google Keep. These all sync with your phone, and allow you to easily maintain different kinds of lists. If you want more premium options, you can just do a quick search.

Thankfully if you want to start using a to-do list, you have a lot of options available to you! Whether or not you decide to start using one, we hope this blog has opened your eyes to the benefits, and how it may make you more effective at work. Now matter how complex or simple your to-do list may be, it’s always a helpful tool!