An important time management skill is the ability to take the thoughts cluttering your mind, and turn them into actions. Ideally the objective of your time management skills is simplification of your very busy hectic life. When you try to store information in your head about what you need to do and remember later your complicating things, cluttering your mind, and increasing your level of stress. When you write those thoughts down in more than one place as random thoughts you’re also complicating things, cluttering your mind, and increasing your stress level.

Using one place to record all these thoughts is a good time management skill. You want something simple, portable, and easy to use so you will use it. A “to do” list can do all these things for you, provided you know how to make a “to do” list. And you know when to make one.

Simplicity is the idea of this time management skill. When you create daily “to do” lists you’re doing seven time the work you need to do, and it’s a senseless use of your time. In today’s electronic age it’s very easy to create a template for your to do list. In your template have the standing actions you need to take automatically on your list. When you have outstanding projects put those on your template with space for all the actions yet to do until the project is complete. Once a week print your template and fill in the actions for the upcoming week.

A “to do” list shouldn’t just be a list of random and disorganized thoughts. You want your “to do” list to be a list of actions you need to take now and later. That way it serves as both a check sheet for marking off actions as they are complete, and a reminder for future actions so you won’t forget them when the time comes. Make sure as you enter things on your “to do” list that you state them as actions. Using your time is about actions not ideas. Include a section for future ideas and plans you want to make, but in the actual “to do” section every entry must be made in terms of an action. You wouldn’t write the word groceries by itself on your “to do” list. Instead groceries might be an item on your list with actions listed: make list on Thursday with items for Saturdays party, and go to store on Saturday.

Your weekly “to do” list is also a great place to track your progress. On your template you may want to include a section for phone calls you need to make with the names and numbers of those to call. You absolutely want a results section where you track your weekly outcomes. If you’re a sales person you may want your phone call section next to your results section so as you make calls you can track and record the number of appointments you make and/or the number of sales you make. At the end of the week you already have your numbers, so you can immediately see when you are on target and off target. One little tool to keep everything together in one place so you aren’t wasting time trying to store things in your head needlessly or hunting for information you know you have somewhere but you just can’t remember exactly where you put it.

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