making to do list

Productivity hack: Why a to-do list can be your ticket to success

In our fast-paced world, staying ahead of the curve is critical. You have to be at your best to stay relevant and competitive. This means better productivity and stronger planning, both of which can be accomplished through a to-do list.

One of the greatest physicists in human history, Albert Einstein died in 1955 at the age of 76. Decades later, his name still keeps coming up in conversations every now and then. Recently, his handwritten notes for the General Theory of Relativity were sold at an auction for a record $13M. This historic event signifies two things: the genius of Einstein will never lose its shine and the importance of planning.

Like Einstein, several entrepreneurs, artists and world leaders use to-do lists to plan for their work. To name a few, the founding father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, and musician and songwriter, Johnny Cash, both managed their work through to-do lists. They help you stay ahead of your schedule and do more in less time. Whether it’s work tasks or errands to run, you can create a to-do list to accomplish your daily or weekly goals as efficiently as possible.

In our fast-paced world, staying ahead of the curve is critical. You have to be at your best to stay relevant and competitive. This means better productivity and stronger planning, both of which can be accomplished through a to-do list. This time and task management technique has taken countless people from their garage to a corner office. Let’s understand what makes to-do lists so effective.

Helps you organise

The higher you climb the ladder of success, the more responsibilities get added to your schedule. It means more work and longer meetings on a daily basis. Having the same amount of time as before, how can you organise your everyday schedule without missing a beat? A to-do list is your answer. Although creating a calendar on your Google or Outlook can help you too, writing down all your tasks can give you a better command over your busy schedule.

In movies, shows, or press conferences, you must have seen business leaders or a spokesperson with their black diaries, taking notes and referring key points. This is the advantage of to-do lists over other productivity hacks. You can make changes on the go and take a quick glance over the discussion points before your meeting. It helps you organise your tasks, no matter how busy your day is. And since the notes are written in longhand, chances are you will retain the information for a longer duration.

Better time management

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Time is money,” and he couldn’t be more right. Time is the most valuable asset at our disposal. Those who can master their time management skills are always ahead of others. Whether it’s a general of an army or a CEO of a Fortune 500, a teacher at a school or a chef in a restaurant, everyone needs better time management to ace in their respective fields. One way to do this is by cultivating the habit of creating a to-do list.

When you write down your goals, assign time to each task. Do this in the morning, before your day starts. While writing, you’d know how much time each task will take. One after the other, add timelines to everything. This will give you a better head start than those who don’t use this practice. Plus, the clock in your mind will keep on you on track.

Clarity into your priorities

When you have 20 things on your schedule, prioritising can be a bit tricky. What’s important and what you can do tomorrow, this clarity is important to stay efficient and productive. Without a to-do list, you can lose visibility over your priority tasks. How often does it happen that we forget about a meeting or an email that required an immediate update? You can use colour codes to mark the importance of your tasks on your to-do list. If something new comes up during midday, you can quickly evaluate its importance and highlight the same on your list. This habit can enhance your productivity manifold.

Keeps you stress-free

In the US alone, over 83 percent of the workforce suffer from work-related stress. In other countries too, the numbers are high and scary. The growing competition and the need to stay relevant are some of the key reasons why stress has become such a critical issue. If you think carefully, you can narrow down the main conspirators that cause stress in your daily life. Missing deadlines, bad planning, lagging behind your project—all these issues can be solved with to-do lists.

If you have documented all your deliverables, your inputs, what needs to go first and what can wait—you will always stay at the top of your work. You wouldn’t have to pull your hair out as deadlines draw closer. You will be more confident and ready, which means less stress and better productivity.

Makes you reliable

If you run a company, you need to be reliable. The same goes if you have a small team to lead or you have to work along with your colleagues, reliability is what takes you closer to success. But what does it mean to be reliable anyway? It’s the message of assurance and confidence you give to your peers and team that they can depend on you. Even during tough times when nothing goes right, people can count on you—this is the most important trait of a leader.

Your colleagues will trust you when they know you are on top of things. Whatever their questions are or doubts creeping into their minds, you have the answers that can solve their conundrums. This can happen when you know your work from top to bottom. With the habit of creating to-do lists, everything runs like clockwork in your mind. You know what’s going on, what will work and what will not.

Delegation becomes easier

Delegation is the mark of a true leader. It’s a way to cultivate your leadership skills and develop more leaders in your team. But like other productivity hacks such as time management, delegation is an art that requires practice and patience. If your dream is to lead a company or get a corner office at a global organisation, delegation is a skill you need to learn.

Delegation is all about distributing the tasks among people to increase the productivity and efficiency of the whole team. To achieve this, you need to get better clarity into each task first. Understand the importance of the assignment, the timeline of each deliverable, and who will do what, only then do you begin with delegation. Having a to-do list can help you decipher this puzzle. You can plan the entire delegation by assessing the tasks and evaluating the strengths of each team member. You can also create a backup plan to address any unforeseeable challenges.

Gives you a sense of accomplishment 

At the end of the day, we all need a sense of accomplishment that can validate our hard work and the day’s performance. No one wants to end their day on a bad note; taking stress at home when you should be looking forward to spending your time with your loved ones. Instead of having one or two days in a month when you feel elated with your performance, why not get the same excitement every day? This can be achieved if you set daily goals before the day starts and accomplish each of them when the day ends. This is where to-do lists come in handy. It keeps you excited when you’re going to work and fills you with a sense of accomplishment when you’re coming home. After a year, you can have 365 days of accomplishments that will not only change you as a leader but turn you into a productivity juggernaut.


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