To do list basics

the key element in time management

compensatory time

Regardless of the time management system you choose to apply, it revolves around a to do list

This is perfectly normal and understandable since the whole concept of time management is actually about the management of the activities we carry out during the time we have at our disposal.

There is no possibility to control the time. That’s a fact. It flows the same whether or not we do something in that period. But, considering that our time is a limited resource, it is perfectly understandable that we all want to make the most of it.

To do list reflected in some of the time management systems

  • Agile Results
    The author J.D. Meier introduces this method in his book Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life The central element of this system is “Three wins”, which means you have to set for each day, week, month, quarter, year and even for the decade and your entire life, three things to focus your mind and energy. Noteworthy: a to do list from which you’ll have to put the accent on 3 items
  • The Ivy Lee method
    It was named after Ivy Ledbetter Lee, the highly-respected productivity consultant who created it, at the request of Charles M. Schwab, the president of the largest shipbuilder around 1918. The method requires to set only 6 tasks for the next day and execute them in the order of importance. Worth noting: it is based on the to do list
  • Getting Things Done (GTD)
    David Allen is the author of the book Getting Things Done and the creator of the method that is like a framework for organizing your projects and tasks in a way that makes them manageable and clears your mind Noticeable: the to do list with your projects and tasks
  • Pomodoro technique
    Developed by Francesco Cirillo, this method breaks down work into 25 minutes intervals, separated by short breaks. Note that: it applies to the tasks from the to do list
  • Autofocus
    Invented by Mark Forster, the Autofocus method puts the accent on our motivations and involves reorganizing the to do list, as these activities seem to us more or less appealing.
Notable: the to do list is the starting point

These are just a few examples but, to any time-management technique we refer to, each one has something in common with the to do list. It all starts from this point regarding time management, whether it is about personal life or professional one.

Fundamental features of any to do list

The definition from is A list of tasks that need to be completed, typically organized in order of priority.

This definition says everything about how to create and use to do lists so that they are effective.

Therefore the to do list must have some of the following characteristics:
  • to include tasks to be completed, broken down into longer and shorter periods
  • tasks should be noted clearly and concisely so that we can easily remember any time what it is about
  • preferably, the daily to do list should be done the anterior evening evening
  • as far as possible, the activities should be ordered by their importance
  • to include an estimated period of time in which we consider that we can complete the task
  • it should be easy to edit so that we can modify them as necessary

We have the to do list, what's next?

From the moment we set our goals we can plan our activities and tasks for the next period. Whether it is about to do lists for shorter or longer periods, it is important to constantly respect and apply the principles of the method chosen for time management.

We can choose from a variety of time management methods and it would be advisable to choose the one that best suits us. We are different and therefore a method that works perfectly for someone may not be at all suited to someone else’s lifestyle or workstyle.

Also, it is advisable not to apply several methods at once, perhaps only if they are compatible or complement each other. Otherwise, we risk messing them around or losing a lot of time trying to implement them. In this case, the effect will not be the desired one, but on the contrary, we risk getting the exact opposite.

Drawing up a to do list: helping or time-wasting?

To clarify this regard it is enough to consider the Pareto principle. The same principle is also known as the law of the vital few or 80/20 rule, or the principle of factor sparsity.

The 80/20 connection was first noted by the Italian economist Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto in 1896 and published in his first work, Cours d'économie politique. He noticed that approximately 80% of Italy's land was owned by 20% of the population.

Later, in 1941, Joseph Moses Juran a Romanian-born American engineer and management consultant, started to apply this principle to quality issues.

The principle states that “80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes”. And this can be applied to various domains. For example:

  • In business management: "80% of sales come from 20% of clients"
  • In team management: “20% of a team’s members are making 80% of a project’s successful results”
  • In time management: “20% efforts will produce 80% of results”

Therefore, according to this principle, investing time in planning and making a rigorous to do list will help you to achieve a greater number of planned goals.

PlanArty is an efficient time management solution and it is especially designed to support your time management process whatever system you choose to apply.

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Mariana Holostenco

Contributor at PlanArty

Economist with a degree in Marketing and International Economic Affairs. Mariana is passionate about efficient time management in business. Therefore, she shares with our readers and our team members her knowledge and experience in this domain.