Whether you’re a busy entrepreneur – or just busy in general – you’re probably no stranger to writing things down to help yourself complete them. The to-do list is a productive technique that people do without even realizing their doing it. The problem is, most to do lists are a jumble of half-finished tasks and large assignments to be accomplished. As with almost anything, there is a science behind an affective to do list. Here are a few tips to help you control those little slips of paper.

1.     Make daily and weekly lists

Different tasks run on different timelines. If it’s a particularly busy week, sit down and map out when certain tasks need to be completed, so it’s easier to prioritize the tasks that need to be completed quickly.

2.     Prioritize with high impact tasks at the top

Tasks that will either lose or gain you money should always be placed at the top. As finances are key for entrepreneurs and small business, tasks that directly correlate to a financial value should be of high importance.

 3.     Break down large tasks

Tasks that have multiple parts within them should be broken. If the task is to “Complete Proposal,” be sure to mark down each component within that proposal that needs to be completed. This allows your mind to focus on tasks that can be completed quickly.

4.     Sort everything

Don’t throw all your everyday and work to do’s on the same list. Things like grocery shopping and laundry pick up should stay off your lists dedicated to work items, so the lists don’t become jumbled.

5.     Don’t jump from task to task (this is science!)

The science of to do lists lies behind the Zeigarnek Effect. This theory concludes that people have a hard time focusing if they began a task they are unable to complete. Jumping between tasks will hinder your productivity because while you’re trying to complete one thing, your mind will remain focused on the unfinished task you left behind. By breaking down larger tasks (tip #3), you’ll find you begin to feel more accomplished and will work through your list quickly.

As an entrepreneur of the 21st century, you may feel slips of paper floating around are a bit unorganized. Try downloading an app to your smart phone that will help you keep everything in order. A well-built, sleek To Do App for iPhone is Any.DO by Any.DO Inc. The app is beautifully crafted and lets you create folders to organize tasks by theme or day. You are able set timers, importance of tasks, make notes, and push back items if timelines change. Any.DO is available in the App Store for Free.


© Zoe Begopoulos, DemGen Inc. 2013