People are so busy these days, making a to-do list may just seem like one more thing to do. However, many studies show organizing tasks with a to-do list—and the satisfying feeling of checking off tasks when complete—is extremely helpful for increased productivity and positivity. Read on for more information about why to-do lists work, as well as tips for making and sticking to your own.
Identify Priorities & Accomplish More with To-Do Lists
Psychologists credit to-do lists with easing anxiety by providing structure. Once you have a to-do list, you can see what you need to get done, identify priorities as well as items you can accomplish easily, and then at the end of the day (or week, or month) the list serves as proof of what you’ve achieved. When you have a thorough, well-thought-out to-do list, you can be confident you won’t forget something important, a great stress relief itself, and knowing things won’t be forgotten allows you to be present for your patients, delivering the customer experience you strive for on a consistent basis.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, people find it energizing and inspiring to check items off a to-do list because accomplishing tasks causes the brain to release dopamine—the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Thus, in some cases, simply checking an item off your list may be all the incentive you need to get the job done. But it’s important not to procrastinate on larger projects for the quick rush of crossing a small item from your list. With that in mind, here are some tips for starting and sticking with a to-do list:
- To get started on your to-do list, accomplish several simple tasks to build a sense of momentum, but then turn to an important, more challenging task.
- For more complex projects, create a separate list of items to tackle and complete them one at a time.
- Make a “not to-do” list, so you won’t be distracted by tasks that aren’t priorities and put too many things on your to-do list. A not to-do list may apply to more of a personal approach than a professional office setting. For example, on top of your not to-do list, your number one item may be to NOT check your emails first thing, but to set your priorities, review your to-do list, and scan important timelines. If you check your email first, you have just given your daily agenda and priorities away to someone else. Sometimes that email rabbit hole is a long one, and you’ll likely be much more productive if you leave it until after your day is planned.
- People perform better with earlier deadlines, so if something is important give yourself an early deadline to complete it.
- To-do lists should be comprised of specific actions, not vague goals. Think about your goals to make your to-do list, but the to-do list, itself, should be a list of actions. With 360matrix, each task has a “notes” tab that supports the team information that helps or instructs team members on how to accomplish the task at hand. Empowering team members is a vital component of long-term employee engagement.
- Add a “when” and “where” to specific tasks. For example, “Respond to emails – 2:00 PM in my office.”
- Include information you’ll need to complete a task on the list. For example, if you need to call someone, include his or her phone number on your list, so you’re not looking for it later. It’s easy to create a new matrix! You can send important emails to this matrix—possibly titled MVP (Most Valuable Project) — and assign a due date, so it doesn’t get lost in a never-ending thread of emails. You can also assign the email task to another team member’s matrix with or without a due date.
Another helpful way to stick with a to-do list is to share it with others—so you’re accountable not only to yourself but everyone who sees your list.
360matrix comes fully loaded with five department job descriptions and supportive task instructions if it is driven by your management system. All items can be tied to a recurring due date if desired. Each job description matrix can be shared with the appropriate team members, so everyone can have access. It’s a powerful tool to enable team members and stay organized, focused, and productive, while at the same time transparent. Add “Schedule a Demo” to your to-do list today!