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Doing To-Do List the Right Way to Work Smart and Achieve Result


Every professional needs to write down his/her To-Do tasks to keep a grip over the things on hand. But at times, whilst making such a list we get overwhelmed with an endless stream of tasks that we want to note down and we cannot seem to decide where to begin. As a result, our effectiveness and efficiency at work suffer and we are unable to produce any visible results.

In order to make effective use of To-Do list we will discuss here under the best approaches which has been proposed by management gurus of all time.

1. First Things First:

Stephen Covey gave this model which require to prioritize tasks on the basis of following criteria;

  • First the most IMPORTANT and URGENT

  • Then the jobs that are IMPORTANT and not urgent

  • Thirdly, those that are not important but URGENT

  • Finally, do not waste time on tasks that are not important and not urgent.

2. 80 - 20 Rule:

Pareto sets out this principle in 1896 which implies that

  • Only 20% of your actions cause 80% of the results.

Putting it another way 80% of the productivity comes from only 20% of things so we have to identify those things and get them done for visible results.

3. The One Thing:

Gerry Keller achieved remarkable success by learning and applying the rule of ONE THING; that said "Our PURPOSE sets our priority and our priority determines the productivity our actions produce".

  • You must clarify your ONE THING (Purpose) in order to achieve results.

  • What to do — Ask yourself this question: “What is the ONE THING I can do in my life, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

  • Prioritize — the most challenging and important task to be executed at the beginning of each day.

  • Time Block — Devote time to one task at a time as multitasking reduces 30% of the efficiency.

  • Finally — When you say yes to something, it’s imperative that you understand what you’re saying No to.

4. Build a SMART List:

Charles Duhigg added a little more science to earlier concepts by building a SMART list. It states that you have to start with a Stretch Goal in mind which you are going to achieved over a period of time. Underneath there should be SMART goals i.e the tasks which are;

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Achievable

  • Realistic

  • Timeline (Must Have one)

Each task accomplished will create a sense of achievement towards the stretch goal. He also emphasized to stay away from distractions at start of the day such as emails, phone calls or meetings and focus on SMART tasks.

5. Learn to Say No:

Warren Buffett once said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

He was implying to not waste your time on things that don't align with your goal.

6. Delegate Things:

Delegating things gives us free time which can be used to focus on the most important ones. As little things accumulated engulf too much of the productive time so while setting up to-do list these question must be asked;

  • "Can I delegate this task to someone else".

  • If answer is No than again ask.

  • "Can I teach someone to do this task".

If you want to fly fast you must shed some load. In this way the list will be shortened. Meanwhile we should also keep in mind certain things which should not be delegated.

7. Technology Support;

Personally I am using Microsoft To-Do. It is a freeware and quite simple application available on all platforms so I can review my things on the go. It helps me plan my day, track my flagged emails, assign tasks to team members and schedule things to get reminder on that.

Out of paid applications Kanban system of Project Management has got lot of buzz. It is actually a project management system based on boards which enable visualization of task as it goes through the team members. It is being offered by different vendors which can be googled and one can choose from different packages offered.

Summing up!

Keep it short and hit hard - List down two or three most important things and start your day by executing them as the "muscle of will power" is at its best at that time. Eliminating Big Rocks will also help you gain momentum.

There is also psychological reward as after completing something that require a lot of energy you are going to feel good. That boost will act as motivational fuel to continue banging out tasks for that day.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mr. FAHD AMIN He can be reached at His social links are below; Linkedin: Facebook: Twitter:

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