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Some people love to have a to-do list. They like to write down everything they want to accomplish in a day. They enjoy the feeling of crossing off completed items. The problem is that to-do lists are not always effective. Often, they act more as parking lots for the tasks that people eventually want to do. However, they end up being overwhelmed and not getting anything done.

There are some ways you can turn the traditional to-do list into a list in which you accomplish. This will allow you to complete meaningful tasks rather than just crossing things off a checklist.

Add the right items.

When jotting your to-do list, keep it manageable. Avoid adding too many things because if you cannot accomplish in a day, you will feel overwhelmed. Consider adding only tasks that are actionable, measurable, and worthwhile (such as making 20 calls) and that you can finish in one sitting.

Schedule a time for high-priority work.

If you do not prioritize items on your to-do list, you may end up wasting time and not getting to the most critical things. Without priorities, it is easy to follow that rabbit down the Google rabbit hole when searching for something. Prepare your list and move the high-priority items to the top. Whether you use a planner, whiteboard, Trello, or some other cloud-based planner, pick a format that works for you and stick to it.

Split projects into smaller tasks.

When you have large, looming projects on your to-do list, you might not know where to start. That is why you should be breaking larger tasks into more approachable, quantifiable action steps.

There is no reason to start with the most difficult tasks.

You can begin with the easy things. While some people recommend “eating the frog” or beginning with challenging tasks. You may be better off building momentum by knocking out a few easy two-minute items on your list. This can help you get in the frame of mind for the real work.

Share your plans with others.

Accountability is a huge driver when trying to get things done. When your colleagues or leaders know what you plan to accomplish, you are more likely to want to stay on task.

Enjoy the experience of checking things off your list.

There is a real sense of satisfaction in crossing a line or putting a checkmark next to a completed item on your to-do list. Remember to do this digitally if you use tools such as Trello or Asana.

Take the time to edit your list as priorities change.

Take a look at your to-do list (if you keep one). Are there items that seem to perpetually end up there? Take some time to determine what is getting in the way of accomplishing those tasks. Maybe they do not need to be an action item on your list at all.

If you have been making to-do lists for years, but you do not feel like you are making any real progress or change, it may be time to take a fresh approach. Consider that to-do lists are nothing more than goals to accomplish for the day when done right. Just because you make a to-do list does not mean you will be more productive or effective at completing your tasks.

Instead, think of your list as a success list. You might be surprised at the sense of accomplishment you feel at the end of the day when you see you made tangible progress on any important project. And this will help you thrive.

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