I have 3 To Do lists and they work perfectly


Some create their own bullet journals, others type it into their phones but most have something in common: What's being written down are future tasks which have to sooner or later be executed. And over the years I have found the most efficient way for myself. Three lists.

Busy jumping from one lead to another, I am unable to draft my own bullet journal and calendar. Hence, I am choosing the lazy version. To use the sustainable Germanmade. calendar and notebooks, which are exchangeable within the genuine leather case that is being kept. The calendar format ensures that I have an weekly overview.

Before we jump into the 3 different To Dos, it's quite important to understand your upcoming tasks the best. Once you've identified them fully, you're able to make smart moves.

Ask yourself what your tasks are

1. Urgency

Some To Dos need to be executed immediately. That is often the case in the entrepreneurial field. Some other team members or clients may depend on your outcome. And if you don't execute, then the others will be blocked in continuing their own work. Other tasks may have a deadline in the farther future. Like playing the bills haha.

2. Complexity

Do you quickly need to send over that one snapshot you took at yesterday's event? Or update the spreadsheet with this months KPIs and evaluate the liquidity of your business? Is it a quick mail to your direct colleagues or one for a new potential client to nail the deal?

3. Mental state

Even though a task might be of sufficient length it can be an easy one. Like coping stuff into multiple data sets. Or editing pictures with the same filters over and over again. Your state of mind and the energy input this task requires is crucial to understanding your tasks. Some are short in duration, but need you to focus the heck out of it. And it may happen that your all the sudden feeling brain dead, after a one hour sprint.

Daniel Kahnemann won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with his theory about System I and System II of our brain.

System I works fast and unconscious. The signals send from our brains trigger automated actions. Like everyday tasks. We decide based on previous experience. System II works slower. We need to activate our brain consciously and it takes an effort to male complex decisions. When system I is incredibly energy-efficient, we tend to make more mistakes. System II is less energy-efficient, but more reliable. And the combination of both is what distinguishes us from apes. But the point here is: 

Which system am I using for the To Dos? Am I working automated (e.g. cropping pictures) or with more effort (creating the budget timeline for the next one year). 


Three To Do Lists to work with

To be executing my tasks in a smart way, I use the following lists:

One for the day.

One for the week.

One for the month.

1 // Wake up and execute: the daily lists.

My days are never the same and I need to schedule my To Dos around this fact. Each day, one column is filled with tasks that need to be executed that day. Not to many in number, as you are aiming to finish this list.

There is no need to fill the daily list with an unrealistic number of tasks. Because: As in my case, there is also stuff coming in unexpectedly. Quick meetings and calls, unexpected hunger attacks and the urge to fuel my body or even once in a while my social life. Be prepared for unexpected ToDos. In some occasions they make up 40-50% of my daily schedule.  

Hence, keep the initial list short, as with the rise of the morning and working world, more will add onto it.

2 // Schedule your time wisely: the weekly collection

With days never being the same as others, make use of knowing your schedule and tasks. Weekly tasks can be the ones with less priority, but any complexity and length. The priority should mainly lay on the daily tasks, but there are some exceptions to use your time smarter. Here are some examples:

  • You have a quiet morning on Monday? Use that silence and schedule a complex tasks for it, which requires a lot of mental activity. Pick either from your daily tasks or tackle a weekly task.
  • You jump from meeting to meeting and only have 30 min in between? Did you consider that in your daily tasks? If not, jump on something less demanding.
  • You're brain dead on Wednesday afternoon? Did you finish your daily tasks yet? If yes, take a break and don't add a weekly task anymore.

Weekly tasks to me are little in number and realistically executable. 

3 // Thinking big: the monthly overview

Specifically private tasks, like checking my insurance, watching this new documentary or ringing a good old friend, are from diverse characters. Some are important for System II to work and give me reliable outcome. Others (like ringing a friend) are not draining energy and lower priority. Sorry friends, please don't take it personal. Once you're on my monthly list I promise I'll call you!

Did this overview of how I handle my tasks help? How do you make use of your time best? Would you be interested in a productivity post? Let me knooooow in the comments below!

found on Unsplash

found on Unsplash