Do you have a To-do list?

Simplicity is the hallmark of genius.

If you are like the average Nigerian, you probably wake up in the morning full of energy believing today will be your day. You are finally going to get that task you have been putting off since last year done. A day is 24 hours after all. There is probably enough time in there for you to get what you need done. You would be right. 24 hours is a lot of time to get things done. Yet, chances are by the end of the day, you are feeling too tired to bother with that task and it ends up being pushed into the vague future. Today might not have been your day. Perhaps tomorrow will be. Except that tomorrow never comes and it never will. Not unless you take steps to get you started on what really matters to you.

The truth is a lot of us confuse being busy with being productive. I have often asked people for some of their time and gotten a very quick “I am busy” as a response. Yet ask the person what they are busy with and you are not likely to get an answer. When you don’t consciously plan for it, each day becomes the same. You wake up, eat, spend time in traffic, go to work, chat on whatsapp, check facebook, return home and sleep. There is nothing wrong with this except you know none of these tasks are adding value to what you really want to do with your life.

Myth of being busy
You think you’re busy?

If you really want to get started on the important tasks that add value to your life, you need a system that keeps track of what you should be doing throughout the day. A to-do list is one of the simplest tools to help you stop pretending you are busy and actually focus on the things that matter.

There are many apps on your mobile phone that can help create To-do lists. Most Note taking apps also provide handy check list tools for creating To-do lists. I use an app called Quip for creating my To-do lists. You can check it out if you’re interested. Even if you don’t consider yourself a tech savvy person, have no fear, a to-do list created using a notebook and pen works just as well as the digital list. It’s not the medium you use, it’s how you apply the tool.

To Do List Pen and Paper
Pen or Paper: It makes no difference

To get the most out of your To-do lists, you must realise that your list is a living document that needs to be constantly updated. You can start by adding the important tasks you want to get done the next day every evening. As you progress through the day, you either cross off or tick completed tasks as soon as they get done. This lets you see how much progress you have made and which task to work on next. If at the end of the day, there are tasks you had added but were unable to complete, do not despair. Simply schedule them for the next day.

Apart from its simplicity, what makes a To-do list really powerful is the ability to create momentum. Each task crossed off your list represents a milestone achieved. This gives you a sense of accomplishment that can often provide you with the energy to get started on the next task.

A To-do list also gives you a better sense of how you are using your time. If your list has only 3 important tasks on it today and you estimate those are tasks that you can achieve in three hours,  you then have 21 hours left in your day for other tasks you see fit. You can use those hours to work on your side hustle, learn a new language, read a book or even go shopping. You already worked on things that added value to your life so if you log on to facebook after that, your mind can rest easy knowing you took care of the important tasks first.

Sample To-do list
Sample To-do list for a blog post publishing process

Still not convinced? Why don’t you give To-do lists a try? Pick your choice, whether digital or analog. I can guarantee you one thing: If you write your list right, you will never tell anybody you are busy again.

Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and experiences below. If you have any great tips to share about using To-do lists let’s have a conversation. I will be sharing some tips on how to create an effective To-do list on my next post. If you don’t want to miss it, make sure you click the follow button to subscribe to this blog before you close the page. This will ensure you get an email reminder as soon as the post goes live next week.

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