I am not sure if it is a corporate habit, but I still have post-its in every place with reminders of to-do’s or written in a planner that doesn’t look like a planner but a long list of things to do.
The first time I saw a to-do list was in the early years of my corporate career, 15 years ago.
I never used to-do lists in college or before college.
I never saw anybody have it. We had notebooks for classes, then we had to study for exams, deadlines for assignments, but the quantity of work and deadlines were manageable.
When I arrived in the world of working professionals, it changed.
There were emails to be sent that sometimes were not sent; there were many emails and people to align… some deadlines that needed a bit more planning, and some meetings with quite a long list of follow-ups. Well, the number of small tasks was simply not manageable if I only was using my head to keep track of it.
Ah! I remember when I started to work on corporate, the outlook calendar was not a thing! So the meetings were not booked in the calendar, they were booked by email!
Not sure if all my readers were from this time! 🙂
I still lived my first couple of years in my job, talking about 15 years ago, where the meetings were arranged by email, not by calendar invite!
Well, this made me look for some tools to handle all this!
My TO-DO lists were a dumping place of things to do!
They could be so long, not organized, and I would have some pride being so busy with such a long list of things to-do’s that never ended!
I remember I used to comment with my colleagues at work, like how long my list was. It was a good subject for conversation! So much that sometimes we could be discussing who had the longest list. And who has the longest would be the most respected in the room! WOW!
Now that to-do lists are a thing in our lives, let’s talk about them and how we can transform your TO-DO list into a Success List.
There is this satisfaction of accomplishment when you check things off from your list, right?
Whether you “check them off,” “X them,” or even “draw a line through them,” the effect is the same… it feels great to cross things off your todo list.
That little check mark gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Crossing something off your list motivates you.
It could be a sense of pride in a job well done. Other times it might be the relief of finally completing that task, which is long past due.
But if your list never ends, and your new todo list is never a success list, it can create some frustration and stress.
So here are the 3 Tips to Create a Success List instead of only a ToDo list.
In all resources I had regarding productivity, it always says that we should have categories of tasks, blocks of time, etc.
Since my to-do list’s main goal is to keep it short and actionable, I only use two categories: WORK and PERSONAL.
I tried more categories, but it felt too scattered.
The first time I started a to-do list, I was inspired by this executive in one of my early days in corporate. I was a junior, and I sat down next to this lady, she was French, had a very nice notebook, and seemed so well-positioned.
It was a long meeting kind of workshop, and the room was packed with people so I could see her notes. I was intrigued with what she was writing… couldn’t understand, it was French!
But when I glanced at her notebook one more time, I saw her flipping the page to the end of the notebook, and she had a column PERSO and TRAVAIL. Well, here I found my inspiration! My two categories of my to-do list, Work and Personal!
Tres chic, right? 🙂
When a to-do list is very long, then it is not a list anymore.
It is a dumping place of things in your life, which don’t have the power of action.
There are so many books that talk about prioritization, which by itself can be a full post, book, or seminar, HOW TO PRIORITIZE.
For your to-do list, and to help you to keep organized, I found a very useful way that Gary Keller and Jay Papasan explained in their book “One Thing.”
Classify your things to do by:
- Have to – a fixed deadline that needs to happen mandatory like the college application, or any other application with a deadline.
- Should do – list of few things that you should do to accomplish your goals.
- Could do – a long list of things that you would like to do.
Tasks can have different classifications in time.
3 – Make your tasks emotional
Create a few categories that appeal to how doing that task makes you feel.
For example: “highly helpful” for introductions and advice-giving, “basic decency” for thank you notes and keeping promises, or “massive relief” for tax returns and booking travel.
This one is new for me too! This one is the next level of productivity! But I started to do it and be like a Drama Queen; amplifying your emotions help!
Also, you will get better along the time expressing those feelings on paper! Just saying as I got stuck at the beginning of this idea…
To support you, I created a template that could help you kickstart with this idea of a Success List instead of a To-Do List.
I would say the process is more important than the format.
It also helps increase your focus and have fun in some of your day’s tasks that could drain your energy.
I hope this tool can help you keep on track to following your dreams and achieving your best potential!
P.S. Are you looking for more resources on how to get better organized? Here are some books that have helped me learned and built my own process of the to-do list:
- Peter Bregman’s 18 Minute Plan includes grouping all your tasks into five goal areas that really matter.
- Charles Duhigg’s wonderful book, The Power of Habit.
- Brendon Burchard’s book, High-Performance Habits.
- Dave Allen’s Get the Things Done.
- Tony Robbins’ Rapid Planning Method.
Got anything else you want to share with us? Leave them in the comments below!
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