On this page:
“In order for it to be helpful, a to-do list must be realistic. A realistic to-do list for a given time slot will contain only those task stages that you feel you can complete within that time slot."
Writing a list can be a form of procrastination that stops you starting the actual work - so write your daily list at the end of the day before. This can be just after you stop work for the day or just before you go to sleep. Refer to your master list as you create your daily one to keep you on track. Include at least one task that sets you up for something to do the following day (finding papers to read is a good example).
The more items you have, the less likely you are to complete them all. 7 seems to be the optimum number.
Fewer items means you can concentrate on some tasks for longer so your concentration isn't broken. That isn't to say that you cannot have 5-10 minute breaks during these tasks though. It just means you can get into the flow and not worry about having lots of other tasks that are not getting done.
If you are using on online tool, then you can easily reorder your list, but if you are using paper and pen then you may want to use highlighters to indicate priorities or just add a number alongside them to indicate the order in which you will tackle them.
- Give top priority to jobs you can do in 5 minutes or less. Just get them out of the way right from the off - this is both motivational and stops them being distractions later.
- Give next priority to the jobs where you need to really think - you are more alert earlier in the day. Ideally these should be jobs related to your most important task (MIT). This MIT is the job that would cause you the most trouble if you did not complete it - at university this is usually your next or most highly-weighted assignment.
- Give least priority to tasks that could, at a push, be done tomorrow.
If any of your daily tasks are not completed, you have four choices:
- Move them onto tomorrow's list.
- Return them to your master list if there is no time tomorrow.
- Ditch them - perhaps they don't need doing after all.
- See if someone else can do them (not for your uni work!!).