Why is it that one of the most difficult things in life is the act of ticking off tasks on your to-do list?

Procrastination is rife in this day and age, but sometimes the pace of 21st Century life just doesn’t allow for us to stop and run the errands that we’ve been needing to do for months.

So it’s easy to neglect tasks as a result. Your to-do list may be as simple as replenishing the stationery cupboard, or as ambitious as starting a new nationwide advertising campaign. It could even be something unrelated to business (it took me weeks to leave a review of the last AirBnB I stayed at – very shoddy). But fear not, here we’ve built a list of 5 essential ways to keep on top of your ‘to-do’ pile. Remember, the only good ‘to-do’ list is a completed one.

1) Set the right goals

The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they’re often wildly ambitious and hard to keep, and sometimes the same can be said for your business targets. You may want to dominate your market, or build a website as popular as Google, but not only do these things take time, but they’re also psychologically damaging when such lofty ambitions aren’t realised straight away.

Make sure your goals are either achievable or can help you on the path to achieving your bigger ambitions.

2) Communication, communication, communication

When it comes to setting goals for your business, it’s vital that everyone’s transmitting on the same frequency. Make sure everybody knows where they stand, and what they need to do. Any ambiguity is a productivity killer.

Business calendars and open task sheets can help with this. There’re plenty of project and time management tools to monitor progress and deadlines at the click of a button. Some of these include Trello, Kanbanchi and Todoist.

Communicating your aims and targets both internally and externally also brings great benefits when it comes to advice and input. You find that an employee can draw an innovative approach to tasks from experience – it pays to open up the conversation to individuals with different viewpoints.

3) Get meta with your goals

General targets are great to set, but make sure they’re not too diffuse or else you risk alienating yourself from your tasks.

Break your goals down into manageable targets over short periods of time and you’ll be much more likely to approach them – you’ll also gain motivation and encouragement from seeing pieces of your plan come together.

Devolving your tasks into bitesize chunks helps you get your priorities straight, too. If you have a critical issue to address on your ‘to-do’ list, then you can dip into a simpler facet of a less severe task in any spare time you may have after – as opposed to attempting to tackle two big issues at once.

4) Manage your time

The fable of the Tortoise and the Hare is always misinterpreted. Slow and steady doesn’t win the race, the real moral of the story is that complacency ruins your progress. You’ll need to manage your time accordingly. Don’t get complacent and procrastinate, and don’t go slower than you need to.

Prioritise your time accordingly in a rota or calendar. Take a look at the size of the task at hand and allocate some time to get it done – if you like to work under pressure, you can be more ambitious with your timeframes.

There’re plenty of time management tools that offer a ‘Time Tracker’ service that enables you to start a specific task that has a timer attached to it. This tool can be used to measure productivity across your business which in turn helps to teach us about what level of expectation we should have for a project and similar tasks.

5) Utilize technology

You don’t need to look far to see how highly regarded organizational apps are in this day and age. A typical smartphone tends to have synchronized calendars, notepads, graphs and charts – Apple products even have an integrated ‘Reminders’ app that helps us stick to our tasks with the help of unmissable alerts.

If you want an intricate and intuitive tool for getting through your ‘to-do’ list then look no further than the earlier mentioned software – Trello, Kanbanchi, and Todoist. The services offered here can manage and orchestrate your tasks to an entire company with shareable dashboards that can be edited to suit the size of your business.

Gantt Chart

While these services are currently free, there are plenty of premium features that really make these products come alive. Gantt Charts control your workload and the delegation of work, while the Time Tracker helps you monitor the progress of your tasks and the productivity of yourself and your workforce. You can even label your tasks by priority, enabling you to get the most important work done first.

So there you have it. You’re all set to finally tick off the outstanding points on your ‘to-do’ list. Be sure to clear your mind of any distractions and achieve those goals.