How to Organize Your To-Do List and Motivate Action
There are endless ways to write and organize your to-do list. Some people have a tried-and-true method that fits their work and lifestyle perfectly, while others struggle to find a flow. If you’re reading this, you’re likely not looking for an alternative to your effective method, so it’s safe to assume you’re still experimenting with your to-do list.
It’s unlikely that your problem stems from finding the “right” style of productivity, but in building a flow that motivates you to get through your to-do list (and then some). That flow begins and ends with the tasks ahead of you, so the order you choose to complete them and how you view the work can be a game changer.
Find Your Motivation
Motivation is ever-changing; you’re on top of things and feeling absolutely unstoppable one day, only to be shot down the next by a wave of procrastination. It’s impossible to completely rid yourself of days like that, but you can combat them with a few techniques:
- Run a task dash — One of the easiest ways to jump-start your motivation is to set a dash on a particular task. A dash is a small bit of work with a goal attached that works to get you into a productive groove. If you’re having a hard time getting started, simply set a simple five-minute timer and focus on a task or break the task down and complete one part of it.
- Get other things out of the way — Often times, we lose motivation because we have unrelated things weighing on us. If you can’t get your mind off your growing pile of laundry, you might as well stop being “busy” and get it out of the way. There’s nothing worse than trying to write a paper or get through your reading with personal chore reminders distracting you.
- Recognize the fruits of your labor — The greatest way to motivate yourself is to remind yourself of what you’re working to achieve. It may not always work, but if you love the high that accompanies accomplishments, get in the habit of recognizing the big picture.
Ways to Organize Your To-Do List
Once you’ve got a bit of motivation going, you want to make sure your to-do list isn’t going to mess with your flow by becoming overwhelming. Here are a few ways you can organize your to-do list to get more done:
- Effort — If you’re the type who loves getting the most difficult tasks crossed off first, the effort method may be for you. If you have to get those little things out of the way, you can also work your way up to the most dreaded item on your to-do list.
- Priority — When dealing with time-sensitive tasks, you can’t twiddle your thumbs and wait for motivation to strike. Sometimes you just have to sit down, set a dash, and get started.
- Emotion — Robyn Scott organizes her to-do list by how tasks make her feel, including highly helpful, massive relief, and triumphant. She says that connecting these good feelings with tasks will help you fight the negative feelings we often associate with our to-do lists. This idea goes hand in hand with prioritizing tasks that will yield the most return.
How do you organize your tasks and motivate yourself? Let us know in the comments below.
Image: Paul Worthington