Ever use your email inbox as your To-Do list? You know who you are. You think, I’ll just mark it as “Unread” and then I’ll remember to get back to it later. Nope. You won’t. At best, you might.
All that does is leave a nice little bomb in your inbox that will get buried under other emails. Eventually you bury enough bombs that they give you an anxiety attack, because buried somewhere in there, you’re forgetting something.
What About a Paper List?
You keep a paper list? Well, it’s a step in the right direction. But c’mon man, are you going re-write a paper list every single day? Also, save trees.
Do This Instead
Use Evernote (or a similar app) for your To-Do list, every time you get a new email, file it in the correct folder (or delete it) and if you need to follow up on it, add an item to an actual To-Do list. This will (1) keep your inbox clean and (2) keep your To-Do list current.
You Daily To Do List Should Be Eight Items or Less
Long lists don’t get done. They can be very overwhelming to look at. So instead, break your To-Do list into eight item lists and then break them up over multiple days. See below example:
While this list only shows Today, Tomorrow, and This Week, you should also have another list for projects/ideas that are further out than a week. It’s important to give yourself a place for those types of items, that way when they come up, you know exactly how to keep track of them.
A Single View of Your Tasks
This will not only give you a clear view of what your day will look like, it will help provide you with a reasonable expectation around what you can actually get done in one day. And having every task on your plate, in one view, will relieve a lot of stress.
If you find yourself adding a 15th item to your Today list, well you should know that’s not going to happen (and just add it to your Tomorrow list). If, by some miracle, you get through all eight To-Do items, pat yourself on the back and then move onto tomorrow’s list.
If you follow the advice above, this list will contain everything you need to do, there will be no bombs left as “Unread” in your inbox.
You will also get immense pleasure from crossing items off the list as your day progresses (strikethrough shortcut in Evernote is CMD+Shift+K). Once you start crossing tasks off early in the day, this will give you momentum to cross other items off.
- You should also keep all your client/meeting notes in Evernote too. That way you have everything together in one simple and easily-accessible place.
- Evernote has a mobile app. This is helpful because when you’re at your desk at work, you can use the desktop app to manage your list, but if you need to add an item to my list while you’re on the go, you can do it from your phone.
- Don’t delete items off your list until the next morning. Instead cross things off as you go via a strikethrough (Command+Shift+K). This will help build momentum and give you some sense of accomplishment as you cross out tasks (and at the end of the day when see all the strikethoughs).
Get It Out of Your Head and Onto Your List
Marketers work at a frenetic pace. Projects change quickly and new deliverables get added all the time. It’s very challenging (and stressful) to keep track of everything in your head, or in your inbox. As soon as any new task becomes your responsibility, add it to your list. Then you can manage it. Give it a try.