Make a list…check!

When you have fourteen piles of stuff waiting to get done, the hardest part is getting started. So don’t start with the piles; start with a list. Here are a few tips to help you create one that’s organized and useful.

  • Make the first item on your list ‘Make a list.’ That way, when you’re done drafting it, you can check something off. You’ll feel like you’re already making progress and the rest of it won’t seem so daunting.
  • Start every item with a verb. When you read back through your list, you’ll see directions telling you exactly what to do.
  • Break tasks into the smallest pieces possible. It will make your list longer, but it will also make it more useful. Let’s say you have to draft a conference proposal, send it to your boss for review, and then submit it. That should be three items on your list, because each one is a separate task. If you follow the verb rule, you’ll find yourself doing this anyway.
  • Include deadlines. If you’ve been given a deadline, be sure you have it noted. And make up deadlines for yourself as well. Not only will they help you prioritize, they’ll keep you on track. If the conference proposal has to be submitted by August 1, you should have it to your boss by July 15.
  • Keep a consistent format. If you start with deadlines on the left, keep deadlines on the left. If you note that you’ve completed a task by crossing through it, don’t start making checkboxes. As soon as your list looks unorganized, you’ll feel unorganized.
  • Consolidate your lists. If you’ve started multiple lists, consolidate them into one. You can still identify different lists for different projects or different bosses by color coding.

Now, go make a list and start checking stuff off!



2 Responses to “Make a list…check!”

  1. 1 The Practical PM May 17, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    List is one of the practical tips ….it comes as a second nature to me…I can’t imagine a day without my daily log !!!

    • 2 pointCprojects May 18, 2009 at 2:15 pm

      Absolutely! I have a couple future posts planned about task management tools; what do you use? Outlook? A homemade list in Excel?

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