Keep a list.
The power of lists is often underestimated, but to-do lists, composed correctly, can be complete life changers when it comes to organizing, prioritizing, executing and completing tasks. Start by creating a Master Task List. This list should include a high-level overview of everything you need to complete for your day, week, or even month. It’s an ongoing list, and you should expect to regularly add tasks to it. For example:
Additionally, keep a separate, “minitask” list—we will call it the To-Do List (original, we know!)—of the minitasks involved for master tasks on the Master Task List. Each task on the Master Task List will have its own To-Do List, detailing and itemizing the steps to be taken to complete a master task. Take the first item on the Master Task List, booking travel for Ms. Boss. We’ve created a sample To-Do List below. These To-Do Lists ensure you haven’t missed any important steps in the process. For example:
These minitasks will help keep you focused on what’s been done and what is next.
Work on related tasks together.
The internet can either be your best friend or your worst nightmare when it comes to your To-Do List. Rather than deploying one browser window with all of your tabs at the top—email, calendar, database, social media, research, Google, blogs, tips, technical assistance, airlines, etc.—organize your tabs in separate windows. To launch a new browser window, right-click the tab pane and select “Open New Window” (or something similar, depending on the browser you are using). You may also press CTRL+ n (see our full list of Chrome shortcuts). Keeping each of your tab groups in different windows will also minimize distractions; if you’re working on hotel reservations, it’ll be easier to remain focused if that new Power Piece isn’t taunting you in the adjacent tab.
Check your answers.
Always refer back to your list when you’ve completed a task. Cross-reference the bullets on your list with the actual work: spell check, add chart, delete slide, etc. This is particularly helpful if it’s a task you complete regularly. Tasks you complete habitually, the ones you can do with your eyes closed, are the ones that are easiest to make a mistake or forget a step. It never hurts to double check.