10 Productivity Tips for Powering Through a To-Do List

Being an employee in today’s world isn’t always a walk in the park. It can be difficult and busy, and you may leave your job feeling more weighed down by responsibilities than when you started your day. While you may have put in a full day’s work, it’s possible that you feel like you didn’t accomplish anything – or at least not anything important. American employees are struggling because they are inundated by tasks but still unproductive.

One study by Time etc showed that 43 percent of employees do not finish their daily to-do list. It’s time to conquer the to-do list once and for all! Here are 10 ways you can tackle your to-do list, so your work week can be more productive.

  1. Choose the Best Method That Works for You

You may love the feel of a pen and paper in your hands or you may cling to your smartphone for reminders and updates. It doesn’t matter what method you choose, as long as it works for you. Sometimes a smartphone can be helpful when you don’t want to carry around a legal pad or constantly lose your pens.

There are many apps available that can help you with your to-do lists. You can even set reminders on some of them. You may need to run some trial and error tests with smartphone apps, but surely you can find an app that suits your needs.

  1. Plan Ahead

If your to-do list is miles long and you find yourself adding more tasks than crossing them off, you need to devote an entire day to completing your list. You may feel like it is a waste of time, but it isn’t.

Completing your to-do list will ultimately make you feel more productive. Around 27% of workers say that working on small tasks makes it difficult to complete their long-term goals. Crossing off even the most mundane of tasks allows you to focus on the more important jobs at hand.

Dedicate a day of the week to tackling your list. You may want to make this a weekly event. Each time you find your to-do list piling up, set aside a day to cross things off.

  1. Wake Up Early

Hearing your alarm clock go off at five in the morning may fill you with dread, but waking up early is the best way to start a day of tasks. A head start on your to-do list will give you free time at the end of the day. You don’t want to stay late at the office because you’re cleaning out your inbox. Finish those tasks early!

  1. Categorize Your List

Do your best to separate your personal to-do list and your work to-do list. You can’t be in two places at once, so two different to-do lists will maximize your productivity. Don’t think about grocery shopping, science fair projects for your kids or cleaning the upstairs bathroom while you’re at work. Save that to-do list for when you’re home or on the weekend.

Instead, be present wherever you are. You’ll will find yourself more productive and more at peace.

  1. Prioritize Your List

Did you know that 54 percent of American workers dedicate 25 percent or less of their day to important assignments? Prioritize your list, so you can focus on the most time-sensitive and most difficult assignments first.

  1. Schedule Time to Complete Your Tasks

If you want to knock out the items on your list, you need to plan accordingly. Schedule your day carefully, allowing yourself an allotted time to complete each task.

Give yourself more time for more difficult tasks and, no matter what, stick to the schedule. Close out email and shut your door to eliminate distractions. If you can finish your list quickly, you can move on to more important things.

  1. Ask for Help

You attend to pressing matters every day. Studies show that 43 percent of American workers spend up to 50 percent of their day scheduling calls or meetings. Find someone who can share your workload. Ask for an intern or see if an assistant will help you schedule meetings.

If scheduling isn’t your issue, but you can’t complete a certain task by the end of the day, ask your coworkers if they can take over some of your work for you. Asking for help never hurt anyone, and there are typically junior team members available who are eager to take on more worthy projects.

  1. Complete Difficult Tasks First (“Eat the Frog”)

As you plan your day of tackling your to-do list, start with the more difficult tasks. If you put off more difficult jobs, you run the risk of never completing them. Starting with hard tasks will help you build momentum and accomplish more during the day.

  1. Make Time to Rest

Don’t forget to schedule some breaks. Everyone needs a break from an overwhelming to-do list. My favorite, if the weather is nice, is to take a walk outside during over lunch. Fresh air will clear your mind, and a fifteen minute break could increase your productivity. If it’s not nice  outside, try another one of these 30 break ideas.

  1. Reward Yourself

It’s important to treat yourself for working hard during the day. This will motivate you to continue the pattern of hard work and accomplishing tasks. Plan a coffee break with a coworker or indulge in a special reward after finishing a particularly difficult task. Eat a snack or quickly check social media. A reward system will keep you focused and centered.

Fifty-nine percent of American workers report working beyond their scheduled hours. If you are part of that group, you’re missing out much needed rest and valuable time with your family.

Jot down your to-do list and start being productive! And don’t forget to share your productivity tips in the comments!

Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and blogger sharing advice on career development, leadership, and finding happiness and success at work and in life. Catch Sarah on Twitter @SarahLandrum and be sure to subscribe to the Punched Clocks newsletter for more great tips.

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