When your to-do list is longer than a child's holiday wish list, it is time to make some changes. There are several steps you can take to increase your chance of getting more things done. First, get your to-dos out of your head and onto paper or into your task list. When you are creating your to-dos, you need to make them specific. Finally, you need to assign your tasks to a date when you plan to complete them.

Coming up with a task name should be similar to writing a SMART goal. A SMART goal is one that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. For example, rather than saying "I want to write a book", your SMART goal could be "I want to write a task management book that is at least 150 pages in length, and I will complete it by March 7th, 2011." In one of my favorite books, Success Principles, author Jack Canfield says "Vague goals produce vague results". I would argue this same logic can be applied to your tasks. If your task list is filled with vague tasks like 'work on budget', 'get more clients', and 'plan conference', then you can benefit from applying the SMART method to your tasks.

  • Specific - Make your task name as specific as possible. You should never have to look at a task name and wonder what you meant when you created it.

  • Measurable - By making your task measurable, it is much easier to know for sure when you have completed your task. If you have a large project and your to-do is to work on that project, how do you know when you are done? If the same vague to-do keeps rolling over from day to day, it becomes meaningless. This is where breaking a large task into smaller "bite-sized", measurable pieces makes it much less overwhelming and easier to track.

  • Attainable - Make sure your task is achievable given your current situation.

  • Realistic - Not only should your task be realistic, but the volume of tasks on your to-do list also needs to be realistic. This is one of the most common to-do list mistakes I see. Most of us are not realistic about what we can accomplish in a given day. Be realistic - you can always work ahead if you get everything done, but it gets discouraging to never complete your goals for the day!

  • Timely - For a task, choosing the best date to assign it to will increase the likelihood that you complete the task on time. If you know you are going to be out of the office all next week, don't assign a bunch of tasks to yourself during that time.

Apply the SMART method to your tasks in your to-do list and watch your productivity soar!

Author's Bio: 

Michigan-based Productivity Trainer and Certified Professional Organizer, Donna Lindley, publishes the "Timely Tips" monthly ezine from Organized Office Solutions. If you're ready to jump-start your productivity by organizing your space, time, email and paper, I invite you to sign up to receive your FREE tips now by going to www.OrganizedOfficeSolutions.com.