How to Make More Effective To-Do ListsThe second most popular New Year’s resolution is to get organized, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

To get started, many people create to-do lists. However some experts say these lists are counterproductive.

Stephanie Vozza wrote an article for Entrepreneur on how leaders should forget their to-do list.

In it she references productivity expert Laura Stack. Stack says, “Combining everything is very distracting and makes it difficult to determine what to work on next. You must separate what you need to do today with what you don't need to do today."

To best organize your time, Stack suggests leaders compile these three lists.

The HIT List

HIT stands for high impact tasks. These are limited, daily to-do lists which guide your day. They are important, short-term tasks that need to be completed. Stack says if your HIT list contains more than 10 items, “You’re stretching it.”

If there is a task that continuously gets pushed to the next day, you should move it further into the future as it’s not a priority.

The Master List

This list keeps track of everything you need or want to do at some point. Some people use this as their daily to-do list. Stack suggests you add important tasks that lack urgency or don’t have a deadline to the master list. Review it weekly so you don’t forget about it, and add start dates based on importance suggests Stack.

The Not-To-Do List

This list consists of tasks you need to avoid because they are a waste of time. The key to productivity is not to get more done each day, but to get important work done. “You don’t need a calendar full of unnecessary tasks to be productive and accomplish more,” Stack says.

Jessica Stillman of Inc. wrote on the same topic but took a different view. She says nearly everyone has a to-do list, but close to no one actually uses them as intended. If you don’t want to create multiple lists as Stack suggests, Stillman says the key is to use a to-do list as a way to map out your work rather than a mnemonic aid.

“Use your to-do list to make a plan--specifically think through when and where you'll do the tasks and in what order--and you'll find you maximize the actual benefit you get out of the exercise, a quieter mind rather than a series of boxes you'll actually tick,” she adds.

It’s easy to let a day or week go by without checking off a task on our to-do lists. A to-do list doesn't make you organized or more productive. It may even be a waste of your time to create one. Whether you create one list or three, create a list that works for you. Think about what fits your personal style.

Are you guilty of creating to-do lists and then completely ignoring them? 

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng

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