Career, Life

A To-Do List Replacement to Help Productivity

I have had a to-do list in my work-stream for 5 to 7 years now. I began using it in college by way of the paper and pen method. At some point in my working career, I transitioned to a digital to-do list. Forgetting the piece of paper in my pants pocket from the previous day happened way too many times.

Small Change #1 – I started a digital process in Evernote where I would update my to-do list once a week and title the note Week of X/X/XXXX

Overtime, I realized the to-do list made me feel unproductive and anxious. When it got quite large, I found myself staring at it for too long thinking about how to tackle the first assignment. I still got stuff done, but each day I left the office feeling unproductive and then entered the next day feeling anxious about what I felt I needed to complete. I decided to make another small change.

Small Change #2 – Every night before I left the office, I wrote down the things I needed to do the next day. Example below:

To-Do List – Week of 4/4

  • Prep for Meeting
  • Crunch Survey Data
  • Handle the Debacle
  • Optimize for cotton candy machine
  • Edit 15 articles

Monday (I updated this section on Friday before I left the office for the weekend

  • Pull Data
  • Meeting Prep for tomorrow
  • edit 5 articles

Tuesday (I updated this on Monday before I left the office for the night

  • Follow up about Debacle
  • Write 2 articles
  • Analyze Survey Data
  • Write Article about Survey Data
  • Edit 7 articles

…..I followed this process for the rest of the week.

I did this for a while, but still felt anxious every morning. I finally pinpointed why. I was going in for a day’s work with a set expectation with myself on everything I needed to complete.

I randomly made two small changes a few weeks ago. In the new process, I have a list of things called Stuff To Work On. I know the projects that are there and I come in every morning aware of them. I attack what I can from that list, then when the day is over, I write down what I did. I continue this process throughout the week. The feelings of productivity and anxiety subsided! Below is an example of the workflow.

Stuff to work on

  • Formet CSS and Publish Article
  • KPI Slides
  • Promote Article
  • Research Article

Monday (I write these points down on Monday at the end of the day

  • I caught up on email (from vacation) and worked a ton on CSS for article It is now live!
  • I formatted another article.

Tuesday (I write these points down on Tuesday at the end of the day

  • Learned about writing tickets and responded to emails.
  • read over article
  • sent targeted emails
  • Start KPI Slides

…..continue this process for rest of week.

Two simple changes helped increase productivity and left me feeling much better about my work.

Small Change #3 – Changed title from To-Do List to Stuff To Work On

Small Change #4 – I write about what I complete at the end of the day rather than what I need to do the next day.