The To-Do List: Use What Works Best for You

6305150_sToday’s administrative professional has a variety of choices available when it comes to tracking To-Do’s. Businesses are making a fortune printing calendars and planners, creating apps, improving and designing software, and inventing gadgets to help us as administrative professionals be successful in meeting the demands of each work day.  In addition to these systems, we can also elect to use electronic reminders, maintain a running To-Do List, use sticky notes, and send text messages or emails that can be sent to ourselves to help us fulfill our commitments.

So, what’s the best system? Talk to your colleagues, friends, and family members who are successful at meeting deadlines and appointments, getting work done, and not forgetting commitments.  Try a few of their recommendations.  There are great options available today.  And to be honest—you need to use a system that works best for you!

My system is pretty simple. I integrate my personal and work To-Do’s into one system that works for me.  Throughout any given day, I capture the To-Do and place it on a calendar or in a tickler file system on the date I intend to work on the To-Do.  If I keep a long running list of everything that needs to get done in front of me, I will overwhelm myself.  I only want to see what I need to get done on any given day.  Note:  Leaving any To-Do to be completed at the last minute is not recommended as unforeseen roadblocks can sneak up on you.

I prioritize the To-Do’s to make sure that those that are most important get my attention first. I spend time each weekend reviewing what needs to get done in the upcoming week.  This helps me to stay focused on my commitments and puts me in the driver’s seat on any given day.  I make sure to allow for some flexibility in my schedule as my days rarely go as planned.  I also make sure to nurture relationships with my colleagues, close friends, and family in case I get into a jam and need to ask for help.  On occasion, I will call upon a local business that runs errands and make deliveries to save myself some time.

Keeping and maintaining a well thought-out To-Do List sounds easy, but surprisingly many administrative professionals fail to write down or electronically enter important To-Do’s. The To-Do List can help administrative professionals to be more productive by focusing their time and energy on what needs to be done now without chasing commitments that can wait or be delegated.

So tell us–how do you prefer to keep track of your To-Do’s?

7 Replies to “The To-Do List: Use What Works Best for You”

  1. Great topic.
    With a few rare exceptions, I can’t think of anything more important for my work partner admin than being organized and keeping me doing the most important things for me and the organization to be doing.
    Spending some time each day or week jointly keeping my list of to do’s up to date is helpful to me and I’m sure to her (or him). it allows me to signal the changes in priorities that always occur and are usually dictated by events outside the control of either of us.

  2. Written lists-work related, personal, my side business…they all have lists. I review them all daily and make adjustments as necessary.

  3. I’ve started using Microsoft OneNote for my to do list. I also have a few shared OneNote files for collaboration with others (especially if we are planning an event).

  4. I use two tools; Evernote and my calendar (actually a second calendar, that overlays my real calendar). I have an Evernote notebook called Follow-Up and within it I have note pages for each person I support and myself. These pages contain an ongoing to-do list that is referenced and added to during 1:1 meetings with my exec. Because Evernote is a web based tool, I have also shared it with my Exec and he can add items to it or notes regarding something that is already on the list.

    Additionally, when I need to block out time on my calendar to work on one of the to-do items, that’s where the second calendar comes in. We use Google calendar so I have created a second calendar called, appropriately, To Do! Because my main to do items are not on my regular calendar, they aren’t seen by people looking for time to schedule a meeting with me. When I’m planning my day, I view both calendars together and move the to do items around to fit in between my meetings. At the end of each day, I review the To Do calendar and move items not completed to the next day, or subsequent days, depending up deadlines.

    There are no post-it notes or notes anywhere else. Everything is in Evernote or the calendar so I never have to question where to find something and nothing gets misplaced. Plus, I can see it and add to it on all of my devices; iphone, ipad, etc.

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