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Make an Effective To-Do List

Why should you make a to-do list? Well, there are many benefits to making a to-do list. Do you ever find yourself so overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done? You aren't quite sure what you should do next. Before long you may find yourself checking out your friend's status updates on Facebook or sitting down with the new magazine that just arrived in the mail.

On the other hand, you may fall prey to what I call "ADD cleaning". This is my biggest downfall. I will have the best intentions to get "everything" done that day, so I'll go into the bathroom to mop the floor, only to realize there are dirty clothes all over the place. On my way to the laundry room, I realize I should put the dirty dishes in a sink full of hot, soapy later so that they'll be easier to clean later in the day. While I'm doing that, the baby starts stinking up the place, so I change his diaper. While tossing the dirty diaper, I realize the trash needs to be taken out. On my way out the door, the cat tries to trip me because he's STARVING (ie. hasn't eaten in 5 minutes). While feeding the cat, I realize that I need to plan dinner so I head to the kitchen to see if I need to thaw something or whatever. While in there, I decide I need to clean up that little spill in the fridge. Uh, oh, I can't find a clean rag so I head back to the laundry room to get some laundry out of the dryer and start a new load. I can't fold laundry until I make my bed, so I do that next. Do you see where I"m going with this? I've been running all over the house and all I've really accomplished is changing a dirty diaper, taking trash out and feeding the cat.

You can be very specific in your to-do list and write a sentence for every activity that you need to accomplish that day, or you can be more general and just word for you. Personally, I don't have a lot of extra time so I use the fastest route and write down as little as possible. As I know what I'm talking about, then that's all that matters to me. The key is to figure out what works for you.

You can write down your to-do list anywhere. Write it in a datebook, write it on a piece of paper and put it on your fridge or on the counter where you'll walk by it or record it in your cell phone. I came up with a new way to write down my to-do list that works very well for me. I usually think of all the things I need to do that day while I'm in the bathroom drying my hair and applying make-up. Then, after the get-to-school rush, I've forgotten most of it. One day, I was in the bathroom doing my morning routine, and I thought of some things that needed to get done. I eyed the kid's bathtub crayons sitting on the bathroom counter and have and idea! While drying my hair and all, I wrote down every thing I wanted to accomplish that day on the bathroom mirror with the crayon. I didn't forget a single thing yesterday. At the end of the day, the crayon was a little difficult to clean off, so this morning I borrowed my daughter's dry-erase markers and did my list on the mirror again. I guess my point of all this is, the place or method you use for your to-do list doesn't matter. The important thing is that you use it. I am the kind of person who needs her list staring her in the face - literally! If I recorded it on my computer or phone, I would probably just ignore it.

After you complete each task, MARK IT OFF THE LIST! Give yourself a mental pat on the back. It feels good to look at a to-do list with more duties marked off than not, so make sure you are marking things off and give yourself a minute to feel proud of yourself!

Creating an effective to-do list that you are likely to follow will boost productivity, both at work and at home. It will help keep you accountable to your duties, because if you don't accomplish what is on the list, you will have to look at that long list of duties that are not checked off at the end of the day.

Many people find it most helpful to order the to-do list in order of importance, or the order in which they are to be completed. I don't do that. I simply write them all down as I think of them, and accomplish them as I see fit. For example, writing an article about this is on my to-do list, near the bottom. However, it's the 2nd thing I did today because the baby is taking a nap and I can think.

Experiment with your to-do list until you find a method that works best for you. You should soon begin to enjoy a more organized and less-hectic life. Who doesn't need that??

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