Why are to-do lists so important? We all organize our everyday life, write things on little notes and stick them on the refrigerator or the front door or make shopping lists so that we don’t forget anything and then forget these notes when we get home.
This process of writing things down helps keep our minds from bursting. When we write down the things we still need to think about, we imaginarily cross them out of our minds at the same time and therefore have more capacity for other processes.
This is also how we organize ourselves at work. We keep to-do list of tasks, that we still need to complete. Ideally, this process no longer happens in an analog way but digitally in a project management tool. But to be truly productive, it’s not enough to write everything on just any list.
Simply writing everything down at random doesn’t lead to us going home satisfied at the end of the day and feeling like we’ve really accomplished something. And let’s be honest, wouldn’t we all like to have that one feeling, preferably day after day?
So in this post, we’re going to introduce you to some helpful tips on how to make the most of your to-do lists so that you can become truly productive. Of course, we’ll also show you how to implement these methods easily in awork.
To-Do-List App: Be more productive with priorities
An important first step is to any project is to know your priorities. A helpful guide you can use is the well-known Eisenhower matrix. The first step is to write down all tasks, no matter how important or urgent they are. In awork you could do this by creating a list with the name To-Dos.
As you can see, there are four quadrants in a coordinate cross that you can use as a guide. One axis refers to the importance, and the other axis to the urgency of your to-dos. The two axes result in the following combinations:
- There are tasks that are important and urgent. You should process these to-dos quickly, and they have a high impact.
- Then there are tasks that are important but not urgent. You should keep an eye on these to-dos, but you don’t have to do them on short notice.
- On the other hand, there are tasks that are urgent but not important. For these tasks, you should act quickly but not spend too much time on them because they don’t have such a high impact.
- And last but actually least, there are tasks that are neither important nor urgent. You can actually say goodbye to such tasks right away.
Using the Eisenhower matrix, you can go through all your collected to-dos, divide them into the four quadrants and prioritize them that way. By dividing them into four areas, you get a much better overview of how many tasks are essential and how much attention they need from you. This helps show you which tasks you should start with and which tasks can wait. By doing this, you can take care of these particularly relevant tasks first and can allow you to delegate other tasks to your team if possible.
Of course, you can also choose priorities independently of the Eisenhower matrix. Maybe other factors are more relevant for you, e.g., costs or long-term output. The important thing is that there is a specific prioritization that allows you to divide your tasks.
Implementing the Eisenhower Matrix in awork
Fortunately, with the tools in awork it is quite easy to implement this theoretical construct into real-life action. The best thing to do is to create a new project for the Eisenhower Matrix. In this project, you now create five lists:
- To-Dos: This list is a collection of all your tasks. Every new task ends up on the To-Do list.
- Priority 1: This list is for all important & urgent tasks. You should take care of these to-dos first and with the utmost care.
- Important: This list contains tasks that are important but not urgent. Take care of these to-dos in peace.
- Urgent: This list is for all tasks that are less important but should be done quickly. With these, you should take action quickly but make sure not to waste too much effort.
- Backlog: This is where tasks end up that you might do if there is capacity. All tasks that are neither important nor urgent go into this task list.
Fill in your to-do lists properly
If you stick to the outlined productivity concept, your Priority 1 list should actually always be empty because you don’t let tasks become important and urgent at the same time. However, sometimes you rely on other people to complete your to-dos. Therefore, it is important that you have this list option available. However, try to complete all the tasks in this list as quickly as possible and carefully. So, every morning, you should first dedicate yourself to the Priority 1 list.
The second list (Important) is probably where most of your to-dos will end up. Here you should also find a visual way to prioritize the tasks in the list. Use the Prio button in awork to highlight some tasks. Alternatively, you can simply sort the to-dos in this list by importance.
Many tasks only look important at first glance. But when you take a closer look, you realize that they are not. A good example of a task in the urgent list would be answering a certain email that should be answered promptly, but there are tasks that are much more important at the moment.
We’ve mentioned it before, and the fourth list should ultimately get little attention from you. Tasks that fit into this grid keep you from becoming truly productive. However, they may become important or urgent at a later time. Therefore, it helps to just write them down and put them on this list. Once written down and filed in awork, this to-do can disappear from your mind, and you will have more time and energy for the other tasks.
Maintain your to-do lists and establish routines
The Eisenhower Matrix is designed to help you set priorities and stick to them as you work through them. Therefore, you should consistently list all daily tasks in your to-do list and distribute them to the other lists once a day (alternatively once a week). If new tasks are added during the day, always add them to the to-do list. It is important that you constantly check your lists. Maybe a priority has shifted, and a task now belongs in another list? Then assign it to the right list immediately. Your lists should always be up to date! Once you have internalized this routine, it will happen automatically and cost you less energy.
By the way, a little tip from self-management coach Thomas Mangold is to end each to-do in your lists with a verb. This verb should directly convey to you what needs to be done in this task, e.g., write, call, contact, email, produce, etc. We really like this tip because it is immediately apparent what needs to be done, which in turn helps to get things actually done.
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