How to Manage a To-Do List

to do list with all the important things to do

We all get overloaded with things to do at least once in a while, some of us more than others. You may have a demanding job, a crazy family life or both! Making a to-do list is a good way to record and prioritize your tasks, but the secret to getting it all done is not making a to-do list itself, but knowing how to prioritize your tasks.

The problem with a to-do list is it can very quickly get overloaded with tasks and become almost impossible to manage. You can only do one thing at a time. You know you have to pick up milk and eggs before the store closes, but you also have to return those jeans that you thought would fit but it turns out they are too small (isn’t it funny how that happens more often now?). The trick is to write a number next to each of your tasks to represent the priority. For example, it would be nice if you could return the jeans today but nothing bad will happen if you don’t get around to it for a few days. However, if you don’t get that milk then your spouse is going to be on your case, how could you forget about your family’s milk needs? So getting milk gets the number 1, and taking the jeans back gets the number 2.

Now, your list is not a static document, things will be crossed off when completed and other things will be added as needed, and priorities will change. When something gets added it may change the priority of other tasks. For example, your spouse is running late and you are told you need to pick up the kids from school in 15 minutes. All of a sudden that has now become your priority one task; getting milk now becomes number 2. Before long, the task of returning those jeans will probably become 6 or 7 on the list, but that’s ok, the important thing is to keep updating your to-do’s priorities.

An easy way to keep yourself in check is every time you are about to start a new task, glance at the other items to see if any of them are more important and update the priorities as needed. Make this a habit and before long you will become the To-Do list master. Now go get that milk!