What’s the difference between a to-do list and a checklist? The general definition is that the to-do lists tell you what to do while checklists are about how you’re going to do it. You can create both on paper as a traditional list, on sticky notes, a whiteboard, or with the help of some apps like Microsoft To-Do, Asana, Trello, etc.
Normally, at the start of each day, once you have your tasks broken into smaller manageable ones in front of you, it’s time to sort them onto your lists. There are many ways of how this can be done depending on what suits you more and what works better for you. The first way is to start your list with the tasks that have the highest priority no matter how complex they might be - this is surely a good idea for those who have the most energy at the beginning of their workday. Some people don't get started easily, they feel tired and unmotivated at first, and in this case, it's recommended to begin the day with the smallest and easiest tasks. Just as mentioned before, completing a task, even if it’s a small one, might give you a great motivational kick and push you to face the other, more advanced ones. Once you feel positive due to completing the task, you might want more of this feeling too!
Here are some tips for creating the lists:
Short and simple
The simpler it is, the easier it will be for you to complete it. Assign a realistic amount of tasks per day. Write the tasks in a clear and easily understandable way as opposed to a way that will distract you.
As self-employed we struggle not only with tasks related to our projects but also with those related to documents, taxes, insurance, and marketing, so in other words, we face a wide range of tasks. Don’t forget to include both simple and more complicated tasks - the more balanced, the better your work performance!
Analyze your progress
During your working time, take a break to evaluate progress on the tasks. Analyze what has been done, what still needs to be done, and how much time you spend on each task.
If you tend to add more and more tasks throughout the day, you might realize that it makes your list too complex and too long. To solve this issue, you can try drawing a line at the bottom of the list after creating it at the start of the day. Promise yourself that you won’t add any more tasks under the line.
After creating the list, check if there are some similar tasks that you can combine or do at the same time, which might help you complete your list faster. Now that you know the basics of creating a solid to-do list and checklist, let’s examine some benefits of lists:
1. It will help you release your creativity - since all the important tasks are written down, you don’t have to focus on them and try to remember as much, so your brain might more easily indulge in creativity.
2. You will stay more focused and organized.
3. In stressful situations, you won’t have to worry about forgetting a task.
4. It helps shrink the feeling of being overwhelmed, which is common for freelancers. You will gain a sense of control over your projects.
5. Having a clear overview of tasks might stop you from thinking about work at night and fall asleep more easily.
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