Updated: Sep 27
Turn your to-do lists into action plans and achieve great results
Whether we love or hate to-do list, they are great little helpers. I imagine they look like tiny, annoying creatures. If you ignore them - they’ll chase you, like mosquitos. If you pay attention to them, they will purr, like cats, and help you organise your life. Like brave knights of the round table, they will defend you from the insatiable appetite of everyday chaos. Nom-nom.
To-do lists are simple: you write things down and it frees up mental space. Simples, right?
But to-do lists on their own are ineffective.
Picture this: we wake up early in the morning and diligently write our to-do list for today. Then we get on with our life and... forget that we need to remember to do things from our list. We end up not doing it at all.
So, what do we do? Stop writing to-do lists altogether?
Not exactly. But we need to equip our to-do list items with useful weapons and armour. Because on their own, they are defenceless against forgetfulness and life in general.
What are those magical weapons and armour? Task duration and our availability. Or as I call it: “pimp your to-do list” also known as "turn your to-do list into an action plan".
For example, you have several tasks for today:
Call mum to discuss Sunday dinner arrangement
Book school clubs for kids’ holidays
Simple tasks, nothing crazy or extraordinary. Now, consider your availability and how long it will take to complete each task on the list. From the top of my head, I think I have about an hour to spare today.
But then, looking at my calendar, I quickly realise that the only time I could do groceries is over my lunch break and it would take me 30 min. 30 minutes to complete one easy task!
I also notice how busy I am the rest of the day. So calling my mum is unfortunately impossible, so instead, I send her a text message.
The school club requires me to find relevant contact details and any accompanying documents. It should not take longer than 15 minutes to accomplish. I suppose I could do it in the evening once the kids have gone to bed.
Even though I was right about the rough time available to me, without checking my calendar, I didn't know when I'd be able to complete some of them, if at all.
Such simple tasks, but when broken down into actionable and time-bound, they quickly turn into something bigger.
Hence, it’s so important to always turn every to-do list item into an action plan to motivate yourself to complete it.
Let’s imagine what would happen if you write your to-do list without turning it into an action plan?
The chances are you’d forget about it the minute it's folded. Discovering it the next day will flood your poor body with cortisol, a stress hormone. Because your groceries are running low, your mum is calling you every five minutes and you might have missed an opportunity to book a club for your child. Breathe… Breathe…
I hope I have proven to you how important it is to turn every to-do list item into a simple, actionable plan. And it won't take that long to slot each action plan into your day. Have fun conquering that chaos!