I have written previously regarding a time-schedule and a to-do list on FreelanceApple. The posts were rather basic, so I have taken the initiative to go beyond the time schedule or to-do list into showing you how to properly make and follow a to-do list. As part of ‘Productivity Week’ here on FreelanceApple which will continue until 9th March, this article will aim to educate people from all levels of freelancing, in order for them to manage their time in a more professional manner.
Will a To-do List actually help manage time?
The greatest argument which freelancers have against a To-do list is that you need to constantly update it – well duh! Why is that a negative? You life is constantly updating as you go on so what you do and when you do it also update. The great thing about a To-do list is that you won’t have to rethink everything as soon as one small problem comes along.
A To-do list helps me especially because if I did not have one then I would always forget to-do things and do them in the wrong order of priority. If you are a genius and can remember everything and the importance of things in order without wasting time then don’t make one. For the rest of us ‘normal people’ I think we need to make a list.
Advanced To-do list
Here is where the fun begins. When I say To-do list, many of you think of this:
- Play Halo
- Watch Pirates of the Caribbean
- Contact client regarding project
- Send files to Joe Bloggs of completed project
- Send outstanding payment to random company
- Complete project
- Take kids to park
- Put the rubbish out
- Check Facebook
And so on.
This is not what I am talking about, in fact, this is very basic and will not help you massively. What you need is “Steven Covey’s Four Quadrant To-do list” which he describes in his fascinating ’7 Habits’ book.
Click on image to enlarge or save
Get your conventional to-do list and fit in here. You will soon have a nice idea of precisely what needs to be done and how important and pending that task is.
A trick is to break things into small steps than mentioned above. As opposed to writing “complete project” as an important task which is due soon, you may want to break it into smaller steps and write the exact process and steps which need to be taken in order to “complete” the project.
If you have to eat a frog, it won’t pay to sit there looking at it. If you have to eat two, eat the biggest one first.
Another tip is to do the hardest most laborious task first and the easiest later as this will ease the pressure. When you are writing things on your to-do list then you should list them in priority and make sure the hardest things are done first. The main reason I do this is because there is more motivation for me to finish the hard task sooner because then I can get onto the next task.
So if I was to ask you now, which order things should be done in, then everyone would agree that ‘Important’ and ‘due soon’ is first and ‘Not due soon’ and ‘Not Important’ is last. People would however opt for ‘Due soon’ and ‘Not Important’ next, however this is not true. In fact you should be doing ‘Not due soon’ and ‘Important’ next. See diagram below which illustrates which order you should do it in:
In fact, why do 3 and 4 at all? If it is not important why would you spend your precious time doing these things when you could be in the park with your children? Or having a romantic dinner with your partner? This is one of the methods of ‘creating time’ which is what we will be discussing later in ‘Productivity Week’.
Where should I have my new and sexy To-do list?
People will have lists in their diaries and others on post-it notes. Personally I have my to-do list on my notice board so that I can be in constant access of it. There is, however, no right nor wrong. Some people will have it on their second or third monitor. Which ever way suits you, just do it.
Every freelancer should try Steven Covey’s four quadrant to-do list. There is no harm in trying this and personally I find it helps me organise my mind and spend more time with my daughter. Try this table and be sure to come back to FreelanceApple because we have Productivity Week this week, don’t miss out!
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