Monday morning. You arrive to work early, sit down at your desk, and get ready to plan out your day. You open your inbox and immediately feel the creeping dread of falling behind. There are dozens of new, unread messages waiting for you in your inbox. The perimeter of your monitor is now buried under a mountain of yellow sticky notes ranging from upcoming deadlines to forgotten reminders.
You’re already behind, and you’re unsure of how to get out of this hole.
If that sounds familiar, it’s time to start thinking about changing your habits to improve your productivity. Digital Marketing is a fast paced environment, and with quick turnarounds you must always be prepared. Having a functional To-do list in your back pocket is going to keep you on top of your game and ready to solve almost every problem. But don’t be alarmed it’s not as hard as you might think it is!
Systematically Prioritize Your Day
Organizing your life can be a simple process, especially if you have system in place that works for you. The first thing you should do (before you start hyperventilating into a brown paper bag from the stress) is to plan out your day. Think of the top 3–5 tasks of the day and write them down they shouldn’t be life-long goals, but manageable tasks that you can complete that day. These tasks will become your measure for success for the day. It sounds simple, but tasks are harder to ignore when you have a system in place.
Systems come in all shapes and sizes. You might want to organize your day into a list of importance, and there is a system for that called the 1-3-5 Approach. This method can help you prioritize and accomplish your tasks without fail by categorizing them into a big, medium, and small list. You can also plan your goals out by writing your top 25 goals, circling the top 5, and sticking to just those for the day. If that sounds familiar to you, that’s because it’s Warren Buffett’s 5-Step Process for Prioritizing True Success. Whatever methodology you choose, the key to success is to stick with it and to modify your approach every time you fail. Not every system is perfect, nor will they all be tailored to suit your needs, so it is recommended to research and try as many different methodologies as you can and then choose what is right for you.
Sometimes the Pen is Mightier than the… Cloud?
Got your favorite system in place? Good, the next step is the fun part. It is time to choose the right medium for your system, and there are certainly no lack of choices. There are different things to factor in here, but one of the most recommended tactics is to keep everything in one place. If you find that you prefer digital to analog, don’t fret — there are hundreds of options for you to choose from.
Analog systems (i.e: Pen and Paper) can be a trusted tool over a list stored on your phone or computer. If you have written down your To-do list for the day, there’s a higher chance that things will be checked off versus a list stored on your phone. That notebook that is constantly sitting in front of you on your desk? It’s a physical reminder of what you’ve committed to do for the day, and it doesn’t come with a delete button. The value of physically writing your goals down can not be understated.
Written To-do lists come in all shapes and sizes, but one of the most versatile formats you can use comes in the form of a Bullet Journal. With these notebooks, you can design them any way you like and take full control of how to get things done. They are 100% flexible in design, unlike other agenda formats which are more rigid in structure. The best part is, you will forever carry around a detailed log of your day-to-day, month-to-month, and eventually year-to-year. Everything you need to do at work and your home life can be written down in your Bullet Journal, transforming itself into the perfect daily planner. There is a lot you can do with a Bullet Journal, but don’t let the options scare you away. Pinterest is a great place to look to start generating your own design.
If you’re the digital type and the thought of pen and paper cramps your hand just thinking about it, why not gamify your life by joining Habitica? This website turns the daily grind into a more interactive experience by allowing you to create a character with a health and experience bar. Checking off tasks grants your character experience and gold, which you use to purchase equipment to make your character stronger for when you go into battle against some of the Task List Monsters like the “Basi-List”. You can even team up with your friends to create a party to take on these monsters together. But be warned! Anyone who misses a task on their daily list is going to cost everyone is the party a bunch of health points, and once you run out of those, you’re character will die and lose a lot of progress. It may sound a little ridiculous, but it is one of the most enjoyable things you can do to bring joy to the art of getting things done.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
It is the mantra of life and it should not surprise you that it applies to To-dos as well. If you want to maximize your efficiency and enjoyment of crossing off items from your list, do your homework! Here is a list of resources to get you started.