Embracing the Power of the To-Do List

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Keep forgetting to do something? It’s not surprising. The memory of a human being is constantly regarded as being fallible and unreliable.

Today, I suggest that you start writing a to-do list. This is an extremely powerful activity that will help you organise your day. The list can include anything from storing away stuff in the cupboard to paying a telephone bill. It does not only help remind you of your important tasks, other benefits also come along with it.

One attempts to cramp every single task in their heads when they have many things to do for the day. Just the other day whilst having tea with an old lady, she told me that she had wanted to complete her washing for the day before she goes to town. Then, we started talking for 1 hour, and I realised that she still had not placed her washing in the washing machine. After reminding her, she gasped and jumped up to complete the task. Even though that was the most important task for her for that day, it did not take long to forget all about it when she started chatting. So you see, a to-do list helps avoid such problems because you will have a tendency to refer back to it always to ensure you had not missed out anything.

Furthermore, having a list of things to do floating in your head does not seem to help keeping you organised. The mind, being a mad monkey by nature, hops everywhere every second. It is difficult for one to prioritise their tasks for the day just by merely memorising the tasks in their heads. Listing all the tasks down will help you see what should be done first, and what can be kept for later.

What You Can Use to Create A List
I would personally recommend a small piece of paper, but big enough for you not to lose it, which is handy enough to store in your purse. If you have an electronic device such as a tablet PC or a smartphone, creating a list electronically is also equally fun and very environmental-friendly (at least, we do not waste paper). Several products are available in the market today to create highly effective to-do lists. Many are available free-of-charge, but a high-end software do require a nominal fee. These softwares usually allow you to customise the look and feel of the list according to your taste. This adds up the fun in creating the to-do list.

Order some beautiful to-do list pads from Amazon US (left) or Amazon UK (right)

Prioritising Your Tasks
I personally enjoy keeping a to-do list. For the first round, I list all the things I expect myself to complete for the day(s). I then rate the importance of the tasks and re-write all of them again according to their order of priority. I find this method very effective in keeping oneself organised. Having listed them according to their priorities allow me to then shoot down the tasks one-by-one without having to decide: "What to do next?". It really helps simplify our tasks in getting organised!

Each time you complete a task, refer back to the to-do list and mark it off! Personally, I feel excited to see myself marking all the tasks off the list. It gives you a sense of achievement and self-satisfaction when you see each tasks being marked off. At least, the list shows that you have done something worthwhile today. Without a to-do list, you would most probably wonder what you had spent your time on. It is again not surprising at all. For some, when there is no list, you do not feel as compelled to carry out your tasks because you cannot see exactly how many things you need to do for the day! With a to-do list, you somehow feel pressured to complete those tasks because they are important. If they were not important, you wouldn’t have listed them in the first place!

You can also list your tasks according to the order that you wish to complete them!

Grouping Your Tasks
You can also group your important tasks under a main heading. For example, if I have a few tasks that I need to complete in town such as shopping for groceries, buying a particular book, printing my air-ticket, I would put them all under one main heading “TOWN”. This will help simplify the look of your to-do list. At least, less numbers on the to-do list will help it look less intimidating, especially if you have a long list of tasks to complete for the day! Grouping the tasks together make the tasks appear simpler (as they share a common category, venue etc.). This will make the tasks appear more convenient to complete as well.

For example,

Instead of the list looking like this:
1) Buying book XYZ
2) Print air-ticket
3) Buy apples and oranges

It can look like this:
- Buying book XYZ
- Print air-ticket
- Buy apples and oranges

2) Iron clothing

Separate List
You can also create a separate sub-list of tasks to do. For example, I usually create a sub-list for my shopping activity. I have a general to-do list, and another one solely for the items I require to purchase from the shop. This again would optimise the power of your to-do list as it takes off the pressure from staring at ONE LONG and seemingly NEVER-ENDING list. Looking at such a long list may put you off in even starting to carry out the work in the first place.

Adding to the List
Sure, no list is ever final. We always find newer things to do during the course of the day. Add these extra tasks to the list. Just remember to keep crossing off all those that you’ve completed though!

Completing the List
Once you’ve completed everything on the list, crumple up the paper, and get rid of it (best still, recycle it)! Congratulations! You just had an eventful day!

If you have enjoyed reading the article, please do leave a comment below. Share with us your thoughts. We appreciate your time and effort. Thank you and have a nice day!

Author: Genevieve Tan Shu Thung

Copyright © 2012 Sandhya Maarga Holistic Living Resources
Holistic Living Annex (Volume 1, Issue 4 - MAY 2012 Edn)

3 Responses for “ Embracing the Power of the To-Do List”

  1. Francis Jose says:

    I feel motivated already! I'll create one immediately for tomorrow's programme.

  2. Wendy Chan says:

    Thx for the post. I've always used this method, but didn't use the tips above. I implemented it today, and household chores became a breeze. Very helpful

  3. Organised says:

    That ought to help me stay organised. Will try it~ Thx


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