Do you manage your to-do list or does it manage you? We often feel stressed and overwhelmed by our to-do list. During our working day it tends to have a nasty habit of getting longer and longer, the more we work and think of all the tasks we need, want and should complete. 

As mentioned in the blog post How A Virtual Assistant can provide you with Lifestyle PA support to help you manage your personal life, it’s not just our work-related tasks that are the issue either. An entrepreneur is constantly juggling the management of both their personal and work lives.

But your to-do list is supposed to be there to help you – not hinder and overwhelm you! It’s time you took control of your to-do list, once and for all. So if you’re looking for a way to manage your to-do list better, here’s what you need to know.

Your to-do list: paper or app?

Start by creating it in a way that suits you. I personally prefer paper, as the act of writing it down also helps me to prioritise, but the key here is to choose whatever works best for you. 

If you’re working with a team or need to track ownership and progress, an online tool such as Asana would work best for your needs. However, if you’re looking for a simple to-do list for yourself, I’d recommend either the to-do app on your phone or using something like Todoist.

Don’t put everything on one to-do list!

A common mistake many people make with a to-do list is using it to list every single task they need to complete, in every area of their life. That will just lead to overwhelm. Instead, opt to have a separate list for your personal life and another for work. If you want to, have a separate household one, and another for a specific project.

You could also create a central to-do list to write down every random thing you think off – to ease the fear that you might forget something. You would then move those tasks to your working to-do list, as and when you need to.

But no matter what tool you use, be strict with yourself. Don’t have lists all over the place in different formats and on different pieces of paper. But also don’t get too carried away with lists of lists. Decide on a central core structure and stick with it.

Prioritise your top 3

Decide each day what 3 tasks are the ones that need to get done, in order to move your forward. Don’t get sidetracked with other items that might seem urgent but aren’t that important. It’s those 3 tasks that you will then transfer over into your calendar, so you can set aside a time slot to work on them.

By focusing on your top 3, you’ll feel like you’re making real progress. Not only does this ramp up your motivation, but it also helps you stop overstretching yourself during your working day. And of course, if you have time to, you can then knock a few more off your to-do list and feel a little smug in the process!

I quite like the idea of the 1-3-5 Rule (as shared in this blog on The Muse website). I’ll be experimenting with it myself for February. It follows the premise that on any given day, you can only realistically get one big thing, three medium and five small things completed. If you’re going to give this a go yourself, make sure you allocate time slots in your calendar to work on each task.

Your to-do list can often leave you overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Managing your to-do list can be quite simple if you use the right app and structure for you. It’s then simply a case of prioritising the tasks you work on, so you’re not overstretching or overwhelming yourself as you work. 

If however, you’re still struggling with your workload or certain tasks, it may be time to hire a Virtual Personal Assistant to help you out and share the load. Why not get in touch and see if we’re a good fit for you!