In my spare time, when I’m not creating content for this website or chasing kids (my own kids) or trying to use the crapper in peace, I crush articles about productivity or motivation. Honest truth — I’m horrendous at time and life management when left to handle it on my own. If I didn’t plan a large chunk of my day, I’d probably get fired.
Through my reading and research, I’ve discovered the single easiest way to increase productivity — the to-do list. Now, you’re probably saying “a list? A list?!? I make lists all damn day, you moron! I can’t believe you’re wasting my time with this….”
….and then I put my finger over your lips and say “shhhh…shhhh your lists suck.” You’re terrible at making lists, following through on lists, and while we’re in the honest zone you’ve got the handwriting of chimpanzee riding a roller coaster.
Here’s the problem with the way you currently create to-do lists:
- You put everything you want to accomplish in a day on the list. That’s a list of fail. That’s a list. Take your monkey scratch and write “THINGS I WANTED TO DO TODAY” at the top and fold it in half and wipe your ass with it because that’s all it’s good for.
- You create the list in the morning. Usually first thing in the morning over a cup of coffee. You sit and think about all the stuff you want to get done and then pour yourself another cup of coffee and this is all turning into a Folgers commercial staring you. You know what you’re not doing? THE SHIT YOU WANT TO GET DONE.
- Your list doesn’t take time into consideration. The first item on your list should take about ten minutes, the next item will easily take over an hour or more and the next item takes five minutes tops and do you see the problem?
You’re probably doing a ton of other stuff wrong but those are the three biggest pitfalls. So we’ll address those three and break the bad habits.
Now that I’ve shown you all the things you’re doing wrong, here’s how to fix the issues:
How To Create A Killer To-Do List
1. MAKE THE LIST AT NIGHT
Family, roommates, jail cell roomies and everyone are in bed, pets are fed, spouse is doing whatever the hell he or she does at night and you’ve got ample time to think and prepare. Now you can sip your coffee and pose for the cameras for the Folgers ad. Also, don’t drink coffee at night. You’ll never get to sleep and this list will be pointless because you’ll be ass dragging all day tomorrow. In fact, no caffeine after 2pm.
2. PICK THREE TASKS — JUST THREE!
I know you’d love to get a ton of tasks accomplished but it’s time to be practical. Pick the three most important task to accomplish. The three tasks that will make you feel like “you know what, I really got some shit done today.” The completed tasks that will make you want to high five a couple of the Folgers folks and go “good job today people!”
3. PREPARE FOR EACH
Now that you’ve picked the three tasks, do some prep work. Get all the necessary tools, make all the arrangements, get everything set up so that the following day you can jump right into the project without going “oh I don’t have X,Y,Z” because you spent night before to get X,Y and Z. Example, if you want to paint your bedroom tomorrow don’t wake up and go “well, I better get to Home Depot” because you’re wasting time and you’ll get lost in the chainsaw section and it will be lunch time and you haven’t painted a fucking thing but you’re now the owner of a saw that could cut a tank in half.
4. TIME EACH TASK (AND ADD 10 MINUTES)
Figure out how long EACH task should take — and add ten minutes for distractions — and put the easiest tasks at the top. Bang those out first. Don’t spend too much time on task one, barely finish and have zero time for the rest. You’ve then failed.
So tonight, when the rest of the house is asleep, put aside the iPad and Arrow binge watching for a couple minutes and compose a kick-nuts to-do list for tomorrow. Make one of the items on the list “find a fucking tank to saw in half.”
Chris Illuminati is a senior editor with BroBible. He does more in a day than you do. Learn more about him here.