I like To-Do lists, well any kind of list, really. They help me manage my day and get things a little under control. But one very simple way you can enhance your To-Do list is to put beside each item the approximate amount of time it will take to complete the task. Here’s a snippet of a recent list, for example:
Write Blog 20 mins
Send card to Pam 5 mins
Mow lawn 30 mins
Finish proof-reading feature 20 mins
Continue edits on novel 4 days
Collect library book 30 mins
By adding the likely duration, you’re adding a layer of manageability. I can see, for example, that the novel isn’t going to get finished today – but everything else is do-able. Furthermore, adding timings can make a long list far less scary when, for example, you see that half the tasks will take less than twenty minutes.
- Highlight or put rings around tasks that must be done today.
- You can even add provisional ideas for when tasks could be slotted in:
'Send card to Pam = 5 mins (start when boiling kettle for morning coffee)'
Set the Stage
I don’t know if other people do this – but it works for me. I used it this morning to get a simple task done that could have hung over me all day. My husband has someone coming this evening and I noticed the carpet in the sitting room was in a state. ‘Vacuum sitting room’ gets added to my list. How long will it take? Only about 5 minutes. But the idea of dragging the vacuum out from under the stairs and plugging it in makes me put it off. Then it becomes a little cloud on my shoulder. I can have several clouds building up during the day if I’m not careful.
Here’s what I do.
I get the vacuum cleaner out and plug it in. Full stop. I don’t do the vacuuming, I simply get it ready, so it’s far easier to do when I do get around to it later. Later this morning, I came across it when I came down for the mail and found myself just getting on with the job, because it seemed so easy!
The same might apply to any other job requiring an appliance:
- Get the car on the drive, put a bucket, sponge and soap ready for washing it later.
- Get the mixer out, the scales, set the recipe book to the right page, all the required bowls, utensils and dried ingredients ready for the baking you want to do.
- Gather together the paint tins, brushes, cloths, buckets, newspaper, dust sheets, ladders etc for the decorating job you’ve got in mind.