4 To-Do List Methods to Increase Your Productivity

If you’re anything like me, you probably get an overwhelming sense of relief when you can finally check something off your ever-growing list of responsibilities. I write lists for every aspect of my life. From packing for a trip, to my workout routine, and most importantly, my day-to-day tasks here at eZanga.

When it comes time to divide and conquer the tasks of the day, the best productivity hack is to figure out what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and then do it.

If you don’t write to-do lists already, it can be hard to know where to start. You may need to try different methods before you find the one that fits. But don’t worry, that’s where I come in. Here are some tried and true methods to get your to-do’s in tip-top shape.

1. Kickin’ It Old School

For some people, nothing beats a good ol’ pen and paper. You won’t lose your whole calendar in the event of a computer crash, you don’t have to sync it to your cloud, and it can easily be added to in an instant, because you don’t have to wait for a program to load.

Make your list as short or as long as you need it to be, but always keep it doable and don’t overload yourself. Personally, I get a great sense of satisfaction from physically crossing tasks off of my list. You might, too.

2. 1-3-5 Rule

Here’s a twist on the classic to-do list that I’ve found really helpful:

First, write down the one most important task for the day first. That’s your main focus. No matter what, this is the thing that has to get done today.

Next, you want to write down three tasks of medium importance. These are the things you want to definitely get done in the same day, but they aren’t as important as that big one.

Lastly, write down five less important things you want to get done throughout the course of the day. They can wait until the next day, just in case the other tasks take up more time than you had originally planned.

This is what’s known as the 1-3-5 Rule. I highly recommend trying this one out, especially if you’re against going the techy route. The folks over at The Muse even set up a printable template. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

3. Get Your Devices N’Sync

If you’re ready to say “bye, bye, bye” to pen and paper, then syncing your devices may be the way to go. Try using browser extensions, apps, or reminder features to keep your to-do’s organized and accessible to you throughout the day.

There are tons of apps out there to get you on your “A” game, but I personally prefer any app that’s free. That way, if I don’t like it, I’m not committed to giving it more than its fair shot.

Todoist’s greets you in the morning by asking you to plan your day, week, and even your distant future. Or you can try Any.do. It will keep track of things that you’ve done and remember their importance for the next time they show up on your calendar. It also syncs to all of your devices.

If you tend to procrastinate, try Do It (Tomorrow) . It makes it easy to move whatever you don’t finish to the next day’s list, so you literally push it off to tomorrow.

But if you’re an entrepreneur, you might not want to download another new app. Faithful Apple users like eZanga’s CEO, Rich Kahn, don’t have this problem: “Because I use a Mac, I’m a big user of the reminder feature on there. It automatically syncs to all of my devices, and that’s something that’s really helpful to me so I’m always connected to the projects or meetings that I need to be on top of.”

4. Use Your Inbox as Your To-Do List

You can also use your email as your to-do list, like Kahn: “I’m a big advocate of lists, and to make sure I get the most out of my day, I basically treat my inbox like a to-do list. I’ll get all of the quick emails off of my plate first, meaning the emails that just require a response from me and then they’re done. Then I’ll go through the projects for the day and get started on those in order of what needs to be finished first. This is great because whatever I don’t get done, I can leave in my inbox to be completed as soon as possible.”

These are just a few of the options that are out there to help you get organized and boost productivity, but it’s important to find the method that works best for you. Test a few out, and see which one gets you motivated for the day, and gives you more time to do the things you truly enjoy.

How do you manage your daily list of things to do? Do you use apps, or do you kick it old school?