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Sunday, December 5, 2021

How to Manage Your To-Do List at Work – Corporette.com


Readers had a great comment thread the other day about organizing work tasks, and we thought we’d round them up today since it’s been far too long since we talked about how to keep track of work to-dos. (Appropriate for a Monday, no?)

What’s your favorite way to manage your to-do list at work? How do you organize it, how do you celebrate crossing something off the list? Are you a paper person or electronic person when it comes to work tasks? (Do you prefer different methods if you’re working at the office or working from home?)

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The Best Ways to Manage Your To-Do List at Work

Good Ol’ Pen & Paper

For me, it’s extremely satisfying to cross out a task with a thick Sharpie — and I know I’m not the only one! Readers recommended the Day Designer A5 (small binder) planner (which is customizable as opposed to their bound designs); pretty, long notepads (magnetic, spiral, etc.); Planner Pad; and steno pads.

Here are some reader tips for paper task lists:

  • Build off of a weekly list by writing a new to-do list each day.
  • Complete easier tasks first to give you momentum for tackling the bigger ones.
  • Color-code your tasks (this reader uses a Kanban board, which you can also do in Trello) and use the same colors to categorize emails in Outlook. (Love this one!)
  • One reader, an equity partner, noted that she uses a legal pad for tasks for the next week (writing a new list every couple of days). If she fills up a page, she knows she’s got too much on her plate.
  • A reader in academia plans each week ahead of time, on paper, with each project getting its own list and next steps and a separate column for admin-type tasks. She makes daily lists from there.
  • Another reader borrowed her boss’s system: When you’ve completed a task, make a check mark on the list, but don’t actually cross it out until it’s “done done” (i.e., when your and your coworkers’ parts are finished).
  • A reader working in tech said that she writes down overall strategic focuses on paper and keeps it on her bulletin board. Every week, she determines her top three priorities.

Outlook Tasks

If you have to use Outlook for work email, you might as well coordinate your to-do list, right?

One reader said she likes this method because it allows her to not have to see or think about her to-do list if she’s not in Outlook. It’s easy to set up repeating tasks and create future tasks to temporarily get them out of sight and out of mind; you can connect tasks with relevant emails; and once you mark a task completed, it disappears.

Another reader who uses Outlook for to-dos combines it with paper — each day, she chooses her tasks from her Outlook list. so that she can also have the satisfaction of crossing things off.

{related: how to schedule repeating tasks}

Bullet Journal

Bullet Journals don’t always have to be, as one reader put it, Pinterest-worthy. Her more functional bullet journal has a calendar, to-do list, and meetings notes in a single place.

If you’re interested in using a digital bullet journal, check out Kat’s post on tips for digital journaling!

To-Do Apps

We’ve posted before about Asana, Basecamp and other online tools for working from home – does anyone have a favorite?

Word or Google Docs or OneNote

Sometimes you don’t need all the bells and whistles of a to-do app.

One reader who handles a lot of projects mentioned that she uses a Word doc with various sections: (1) a list of things of tasks assigned to people (to remind her to follow up if needed); a daily list that she prioritizes and adjusts as the day goes on; a list for the next day, which she adds to during the current day; and a “quick hit” list for quick emails, calls, and so on.

If you don’t want to have to remember to save all the time to save your to-do list from “Not Responding” purgatory, use one reader’s tip: Make your daily to-do list in an Outlook email (to be sent to yourself for the next day), because if Outlook crashes, you won’t lose the draft.

Another reader said she likes to use OneNote — with color coding in red, yellow, and green. At the end of the week, she makes a shorter paper list of tasks for the next week.

I’ve just started using a Google Doc — using it for the short term. Right now, it has “Today,” “Tomorrow,” “This Week,” and “This Month.” I’ll probably keep longer-term tasks on paper and transfer as needed. (Did you know that Google Docs has a checklist function for lists? I didn’t until last week! If you click the box, it makes the whole line show as strikethrough.) If you want to share your list with anyone, it’s very easy. You can even keep the permission on “view” to prevent anyone from messing up your doc!

Readers, what are your favorite ways to manage your to-do list at work? How to you organize your tasks and your time so everything gets done?

Stock photo via Stencil.





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