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.