So I’ve been pulled away from my A-Z of Techniques for Transformation due to various commitments (and possibly a little distraction thanks to the football World Cup) – but fear not, I have not forgotten that there is more to come. Indeed, taking a break from the routine can be a great way to bring about transformation, especially if you are able to step back and see things from outside the box. However, ‘take a break’ was not my intention for this instalment, despite it being a worthy candidate. In this article, I would like to return to something that I have mentioned previously – the to do list.
Why should I use a to-do list?
Quite simply, you spend almost every waking hour being bombarded with information, some of it important, most of it trivial and a huge amount of it plain distracting. It’s hard in this modern world to stay focused on the job at hand in order to achieve our objectives and reach our goals. So how do the world’s most successful people stay sane, stay focused and make shit happen? They write to-do lists. A great example is one of my big inspirations, Richard Branson, who I mentioned as a big advocate of list writing in my entry about bucket lists. He does however point out in a wonderful tweet from 2014 that there is more to life than just the to-do list:
“Remember the to-do list, but don’t forget the #ToBeList”
It is a quote that has a deep meaning, especially in the sense of transformation. One cannot be if one does not do. Transformation begins with action, but action is all too easy to avoid – especially when it comes to the tasks we don’t particularly wish to do. Procrastination, that eternal enemy of success. So how do we fight procrastination and become the change we want to be? Write a to-do list, then execute. Note that last word. A to-do list in and of itself is worthless unless you act upon it. Without action, it is ultimately no different than toilet paper.
How can I make to-do lists work for me?
If the key to successful to-do lists lies in the execution, then it follows that how we write our to-do lists can have a significant impact on the outcome. Here are five tips to try:
1. Make sure your list is handwritten.
If you want to act on something, write it by hand. Studies indicate that the simple act of writing down goals makes individuals up to 33% more likely to achieve them.
2. Plan ahead.
Don’t write your to-do list when you should be doing already. Make time the previous evening to set out your to-do’s for the coming day. This way, not only will you have a clear head in the evening and be able to enjoy restful sleep, you will wake up focused and ready to go.
3.Keep it short.
Don’t make your to do excessively long. It’s not an essay writing competition. I never allow my to-do list to exceed 10 entries. If you are consistently finding that you have far more on your plate, then it is time to consider delegating.
4. Set a quick win
Start your task list with the simplest task that you have, one that can be completed within thirty minutes (trust me, there will always be one). Starting the day with a quick win gives you a real sense of achievement and this can have a contagious effect on other goals.
5. Set a daily intention
If you are struggling to deliver on your to-do’s or are involved in a big project that is harder to break down into smaller milestones, try setting a daily intention.
There are of course numerous other ways to make the most of to-do lists, but these are five approaches that are simple and straightforward to implement and should be enough to get you into the habit. So what are you waiting for? Time to start work on that to-do list! ■
Check out the list below for previous articles in this series: