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From the Blog

All hail the to-do list

21. 06. 2022

Are you a fan of a to-do list? Dani on our team is a huge fan and in her latest blog post, she explains why they're important.

The to-do list. It’s a simple yet well-established tactic that I love and depend on in my working life. There are some who argue against this renowned list, but personally I’m a huge fan and won’t hear a bad word uttered about it.

I have a busy mind and it can get overwhelmed and overloaded at times. My to-do list provides me with a sense of calm that other methods I’ve tried simply don’t (hello, one year yoga membership that I’ve only used three times in 2022).

Writing down everything I have to do creates order in my brain, offers my day structure, motivates me and at the end the week, is a reminder of what I’ve achieved. The sense of accomplishment from ticking something - anything - off my list of tasks never gets old. I’m addicted to the flood of dopamine it brings and I’m not ashamed to admit that!

Nowadays, there are several online programmes for creating and managing your to-do list such as Trello, Asana or a checklist on your phone, but I’m old school and while sipping a cuppa, use a Moleskine notebook and pen with check boxes beside each task. Creating my list is an enjoyable moment of calm away from a screen for me, and is there anything nicer than using pretty stationery?

I make a list at the beginning of each week and then daily, select from that list what my tasks for the day ahead should be. Of course, new tasks regularly come in and they are either slotted in or added to my ‘next week’ list if not time sensitive.

I ensure I keep my list manageable and realistic, with the most important tasks that I absolutely must get done placed at the start of the week or day. This keeps me focused and not distracted by smaller tasks that I know collectively will take me less time if I’m not worrying about the bigger things that still have to be completed.

At Clearbox, we recently took part in a wellness training workshop with workplace wellbeing expert, Anji McGrandles of The Mind Tribe. During the Stop Surviving, Start Thriving session, Anji spoke with passion about the 1-3-5 priority rule for to-do lists. This rule limits a to-do list to nine tasks you would like to accomplish but this should be one big thing, three medium things, and five small things. At the start of each day, or this can be done weekly, write down a list of everything you would like to get done then categorise them into big, medium and small tasks.

An example of a big task here might be drafting a new business pitch, a medium task could be writing a press release and a small task, scanning for and clipping client press coverage. This can be flexible but the idea is prioritising the bigger tasks first to boost productivity while still keeping an eye on the less time and effort heavy things on your list. This rule is both practicable and manageable, and one I’ve been implementing without the name tag for as long as I can remember. I 100% recommend giving it a go.

List-making is definitely personal though - my partner writes tasks that come up during the day on his hand so he doesn’t forget them, whereas I used to work with someone who colour coded everything - however, studies have shown that people are more likely to complete their goals if they have written them down. And this blog post is a perfect example. I’ve been meaning to write this for a while and it’s been on my rolling / non urgent to-do list. On Monday, I added it to this week’s list and wrote it today (Wednesday). Now I’m about to tick off ‘write blog article’ in my notebook and wait for the dopamine rush….

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