To-do lists are generally underrated for a variety of reasons, and that’s why we’re giving you this article to go over some of the ways they can be useful to you as a professional, as well as a business owner. It’s not likely that anyone within the sound of my voice has never used a to-do list at some point.
Meanwhile, many professionals don’t regularly use them, depriving themselves of a simple tool that can help them to be much more productive and keep everything in order. Here’s why you need to start using lists.
It Helps You to Effectively Prioritize Tasks
When running a business, your day can quickly get away from you if you don’t have it mapped out. With so many things that need attention, high volumes of customers, various requests throughout the day, and internal problems, you really have to be an uncommonly organized type of person to keep track of all of it without writing it down.
And that’s the whole point. It’s not that you aren’t capable of doing everything your job requires, it’s just that you really need a written reference to look at so that nothing is missed. When you’ve got a list for yourself to reference throughout the day, week, or even further, one important benefit of this is that it gives you the ability to lay out tasks in a specific order. That is, you can lay out the plan in an order from toughest to easiest, most time-consuming to least, or any other order that keeps your priorities straight.
It’s mainly about making the best use of your time. Some things need to get done first due to deadlines, and some things need to be done at a specific time because they will take longer, which tasks will need a sufficient block of time that you might only have available at certain times of the day.
More Easily See the Progress of Your Work
Part of the advantage of seeing your work progress is that you can perpetually learn if you need to reorder your priorities because if the more important work isn’t getting done, then you probably need to move those jobs up on your list. Not only that, but you may not have a full appreciation for just how satisfying it is to cross items off of a to-do list as you’re performing your work, no matter what that work is.
This is especially true when you cross off the more challenging items. These to-do lists are just not valued nearly as much as they should be, which is probably a large part of the reason why people don’t feel like it’s all that important to use them. It’s actually extremely good for a business owner, psychologically, to participate in physically crossing things off a to-do list, considering how stressful it can be when you’re looking at everything you need to get done.
Naturally, this isn’t much help to you if you don’t get tasks done, so you can cross them off, which is actually good because it will motivate you more to complete tasks when you see all of them right in front of you.
You Can Use To-Do Lists for Areas Outside of Work, Too
Obviously, we’re focusing on how to-do lists can be of use to you for running your small business more efficiently, but you can also get more done by using them for your home life, personal life, or any other area where it’s needed.
The main function of it is to put everything you’re doing into good order and keep it all in front of you to make sure it gets done, so that is really valuable for ordering other aspects of your life, as well. If there are important things you have to get done outside of the business, you can write it out plainly in the same way that you would for the business.
Additionally, a to-do list can give you a way to stay on top of your contacts for work, as well as personally. Are there people whom you always forget to call or just want to make sure you stay in touch with? Keep a list of all your contacts with notes about who they are, how long it’s been since you last checked in, and even things like how personally important they are to you.
It’s a Great Reference to Fall Back On
When unexpected things happen and pull you off task, you can go back and review your to-do list to get back on track. As much as you try to stay on task, especially as a business owner, there will always be fires to put out and issues that come up unexpectedly.
Your list can help immensely to refocus your day, realign with the most vital priorities in a timely manner, and make sure that you don’t have unfinished work at the end of the day or longer time period, if applicable. One of the toughest things to deal with is when you start to get behind as the work continues to pile up because we all know that it won’t stop coming in just because you’re getting behind.
Keeping Lists Can Make You Significantly More Productive
The productivity that you can gain from following a to-do list is an essential key to the whole reason we’re posting this article. Especially for people who are not naturally organized, there is a lot that can happen that will easily pull you off task and prevent you from completing everything in the time you’ve allowed for it. Furthermore, you may not even be setting an allotted time limit for tasks, which can also come back to bite you.
Chances are that you’re a pretty organized person if you’re running your own business; however, highly creative professionals can often be naturally disorganized. You can of course always just keep everything laid out in your head if you’re good at that, but it’s unreliable and has the potential to frustrate you. Keeping to-do lists for work will make sure that everything gets done, as long as you stick to your lists.
Track Your Success in the Long Term
Having a record of everything you’ve done, even down to a daily basis, is great for a reference because, in the future, you can look back at your records and see where you’re at. Not only is it satisfying to see how much you’ve accomplished, but you’ll also see where you’re falling short and need to improve productivity.
Check out all of the articles in the series, Understanding & Dealing with Burnout:
- Recognizing the Warning Signs of Burnout
- Why Entrepreneurs Are More Susceptible to Burnout
- Avoiding Burnout: Our Top Tips
- How Creating To-Do Lists Will Change Your Life
- Why Setting Reasonable Deadlines is Essential
- Taking Mental Health Days and How to Manage Them
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.