In a recent interview of the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, she was asked how she stays organized with all that she has on her plate. Her response:
She did say that prioritization was key. Mayer had a good friend in college who had shared her prioritization tip with her. Every day her friend would make a to-do list according to order of importance, but she’d never get to check every thing off.
“She’s like, ‘I celebrate the fact that I never get to the bottom of it,'” Mayer said of her friend. “‘If I did ever get to the bottom of my to do list, I would have spent a bunch of time doing relatively unimportant things.'”
In order to have that level of detail on your to-do list you have to take the time to write everything down. The value in this exercise is that it is now captured so you can let go of trying to remember and free up your thoughts for important work.
There is great pleasure in crossing things off that priority list, but as Mayer says, getting to the bottom of the list means that you have spent time on the mundane when you could be creatively working on what is truly important to you.
Belle Beth Cooper wrote an article on creating to do lists and credits Benjamin Franklin with perhaps being the founder of to do lists. See the image above for the example of his daily schedule. She also offers four great tips for creating a to do list:
- Break projects into tasks (the smaller the detail, the more focused)
- Prioritize ruthlessly
- Plan ahead
- Be realistic in your planning
Click here for the complete article by Belle Beth Cooper.
MindTools offers a great article on creating to do lists and also offers software recommendations for creating your list:
There are many time management software programs available. At a simple level, you can use MSWord or MSExcel to manage your To-Do Lists. Some versions of Microsoft Outlook, and other email services such as Gmail, have task lists and To-Do Lists as standard features. Remember the Milk is another popular online task management tool that will sync with your smartphone, PDA, or email account. It can even show you where your To-Do List tasks are on a map. Other similar services include Todoist and Toodledo. – See more at: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_05.htm#sthash.Yz3ttESQ.dpuf
Bottom Line: whether you use technology or a simple piece of paper and pencil, creating a to do list is a great way to help prioritize your day, your projects and your goals.