Most of the time, I work pretty well off of a list.
At the start of every business day, I will generally sit down and make a list of things that I want to accomplish that day. I do so by reviewing my e-mail, my calendar, my previous day’s list, any recurring items, and whatever else comes to mind of things that I have to get done or want to get done.
This also holds true for other aspects in life, such as keeping up on things around the house.
As is probably the case most of the time, I put the ‘must do’ stuff toward the top of the list, or highlight those items and tackle them first.
Sometimes, though, if none of the items are pressing (i.e. immediately due), I’ll find myself less productive. Even though the list is there, it’s almost too daunting.
What do I do then?
I start putting the items in order. At work, I still work off a pen and paper system, so I’ll actually go through the list and start ordering the tasks in how I want to get them done. It puts anything pressing towards the top, but if there’s flexibility in what I want to do, I’ll sometimes split up similar tasks so that I can keep things variable.
Just having a list will often get me back in the swing of things. Why? Because if I have twenty things to do, trying to figure out which one of the items to do can take up more time than it should. But, if I’ve got things listed 1-20, then I know what I’m supposed to be working on now, what I’m working on next, and what I’ll be working on after that.
What type of system do you use to keep track of your to-do lists, and what tricks have you learned that keep you motivated when you start to lose focus?