How To Handle a To-Do List

  • Posted by Rajesh Pavithran
  • 03 November 2018
  • freelancer

Could there be some magic involved in going through your to-do list or its just plain common sense?
This is the question many people ask themselves when they find that they are constantly out of time.
They try to create a list, which is sometimes ignored. The result is having to do tasks in a hurry because you forgot all about it.

The good news that there are some very powerful tips you can adopt to help you in this case. You can
actually get things done- and on time too! And probably you will be able to free up your schedule to
even make the thought of a vacation quite welcome.

Here are the best tips on how to effectively handle your to-do list.

Tip #1. Write everything down

Do you ever feel like you are supposed to remember every task off head? Well, you actually do not! It is recommended that you stop trying to memorize your to-do list and write everything down. The reason is a psychological effect known as the Zeigernik effect.

If you fail to accomplish a particular task, it will keep running through your head. The idea that you are a failure of some sort will make it almost impossible to pay attention to what you are currently doing
which will result in stress. And this will effectively prevent you from carrying other tasks as if it’s a
weight literally chained to your feet.

To overcome this effect, you simply have to write every task down on paper. This will free up your mind
to focus on whatever task you have on hand. Do it even if you have a great memory.

Tip #2. Make your list early enough

Many people who use to-do lists usually spend some time in the morning to plan their day ahead. This
involves sitting down with either your phone, computer or notebook to create a list of the tasks for the

Although many may view this as a waste of time, it’s actually an effective way of ensuring that you are
able to carry out most of the tasks. Early preparation will ensure that you identify all the tasks that need a lot of time, effort and concentration, and those which do not. You will, therefore, be able to plan them such that the high energy ones are tackled early in the morning when your motivation is very high. The less demanding tasks can then be scheduled for later in the day.

Tip #3. Keep all your lists in one place

It’s a very bad idea to have your tasks scattered across many lists and devices. Paper notes, computer
software mobile applications are just a few of what people use to make to-do lists. If you have your lists in many different places, it will make you disoriented when you want to move from one task to the next.

You will discover at the end the day that there are tasks that you have actually skipped unless someone
else was there to remind you. Or you may lose some precious time when checking your numerous
sources for the next task. The solution to all this trouble is to have everything in one place. Using a
phone app is a good idea because you can easily carry it around with. And ensure that you use an app
with internet capabilities so that your list can be automatically be saved online for future reference.


Tip #4. Specify Time attributes

Your to-do list will make you extra productive if you can be able to specify time attributes. Here’s what
you need to ask yourself as you are preparing the to-do list.

When do I want to start this task? (Specify the start date)
What time of the day is the most appropriate for the task?
How long will it take me to finish the task?

Time attributes on a to-do list is a great way of planning specifically how to accomplish a task instead of just hoping you will be able to do it. It also ensures that you get a realistic perspective of the task so that you don’t have to either overcommit or set less time for it.

Tip #5. Clearly state your priorities

As much as we spend time trying to organize our day, there’s one thing that is guaranteed to happen
and which we have absolutely no control over. Unexpected events are bound to happen which will end
up interrupting our plans.

The best approach against this turn of events is a list of priorities. When you write down a task, ensure
that you give it a priority. This will make it possible to assign tasks with reference to their urgency. If a
task is very urgent, common sense dictates that it be given first priority. doing this will help you deal
with the most important tasks of the day even if you encounter disruptions in your program. The less
urgent tasks can either be scheduled for a later part of the day or even pushed to another day

Tip #6. Constantly re-evaluate your list.

Most people are constantly caught by the greatest thief of time – procrastination. But there are
instances where procrastination may actually be beneficial. How? You ask.
It is estimated that 80% of your total value actually results from 20% of all activates that you carry out.

So, you need to evaluate each task based on the value that it generates. If you discover that it’s actually a low-value task, you can go ahead and delete it and not reschedule it. This is referred to as the Pareto principle. It actually implies that you can evaluate the value of a task by rescheduling it.

Its therefore important to get some time to go through your to-do list as you reevaluate every task.
Make a point of getting rid of those that do not have much impact on your progress and focus on the
tasks that add value.

Tip #7. The bliss of delegation

Sometimes, despite our best intentions, tasks tend to slip through our fingers and escape our notice. In
case you are working on a task that involves a team, you can make use of delegation to ensure that it’s
taken care of. There are numerous computer and phone programs that allow you to easily create a task
and assign it to a team member without too much trouble.

Tip #8. Create categories

At times you may find that your list has grown to be too long. This makes it problematic because it tends to affect your motivation for work. But you can easily deal with long lists through creating categories and subcategories. This involves two steps.

First of all, you can break up the bigger tasks in your list into several smaller tasks. You will thus be able to clearly identify the steps to take in working on the smaller tasks. The other step is to create tasks and evaluate them in the context of a larger objective. Ensure that every task you create is part of a larger project and is serving its purpose. It will be easier to set goals and deadlines for each task when you understand what role its playing in the broader perspective.

Tip #9. Batch process

Batching is a process of grouping together similar tasks. Its mostly used in factories and manufacturing
plants. You can also apply the same technique in dealing with your tasks. You could, for instance,
identify all the tasks that require the use of a telephone and group them together. This way you can
make all your phone calls once and be done with the tasks. It's also possible to bundle together tasks that recur on a daily basis so that you save time when looking through your list.

Tip #10. Rate tasks based on energy levels

No two tasks are the same. There are those that need more concentration while others can be done
without much effort of the mind. It’s important to rate your activities based on their energy level. Assign those tasks with high energy demand for when you are at your best mentally and physically.
This is a sure way of increasing your productivity when carrying out different tasks.


Your to-do list is not just a list like any other. It is what guides you on a daily basis and, ultimately, has a great impact on your productivity. Making use of the tips outlined here will guarantee that you improve your productivity and your usefulness both to yourself and your place of work.