Last week we talked about the value of making a list of tasks for today (or tomorrow). Here are some tips for doing that.

  • Give yourself a few more minutes than you think you need to prepare your list. 15 minutes planning might save you an hour of doing.
  • Your list should include important tasks, eg, goal-related, and less important but necessary tasks like errands and admin.
  • Consider your day. What’s on your calendar? Will you need travel or prep time? Have you overbooked? Is it mentally or physically demanding work, or does the day look relatively light?
  • Look at your projects and goals lists before you plan the day. What do you need to work on to advance your projects? What’s coming up soon that might need some attention now?
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself. We’re often too optimistic about what we can do in a day. 5-10 tasks is a good number for most people. If you finish early, you can always find more to do, or call it a day.
  • Consider how you feel. If you’re sick or dragging, schedule a lighter day. Also consider how you feel about the tasks you’re planning to do. If you don’t like something (and can’t delegate it), consider moving it to another day, or schedule it first to get it over with.
  • If you find yourself consistently unable to finish the tasks on your list, break them up into smaller, easy-to-do steps, and/or reduce the number of projects you’re currently working on.
  • Prioritize. Do your most important tasks first. Put them on the top of your list, when you have the most energy; errands can wait.
  • Allocate more time than you think you’ll need. I schedule one hour to do my blog, even though I usually get it done in less than 30 minutes.
  • Allow buffer time between tasks or appointments, in case you need more time than you thought, or you need a break.

In sum, an effective ‘today’ list is not too hot and not too cold. It’s a list you feel drawn to start, and drawn to complete, and when you’ve completed it, you know you’ve had a good day.

How to make an effective ‘today’ list