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The To-Do List: How to Increase Productivity

All individuals, including those who work as virtual assistants, undergo difficulties with time management and slow productivity at one point in their lives. If any of the following statements resonate with you, you may perhaps be undergoing a period of time of increased adversity in accomplishing your goals and aspirations:

  • You often find yourself struggling to meet deadlines

  • You frequently find yourself feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by the amount of work you’ve got ahead of yourself

  • Other people often have to remind you of assignments and chase you down to ensure that work is completed

Holding these feelings are generally strong indicators that one might be in-need of perhaps the most simple yet effective productivity hack; the to-do list.

The to-do list is an organizational system that is magnificent in its simplicity: determine what needs to be done and by when, write down these determined tasks, and then work towards completing them. According to scholars, such as psychologist and author Dr David Cohen, to-do lists are scientifically proven to help individuals perform better. This, ultimately, leads to the question as to why this simple tool wields so much success. However before venturing any further into the subject as to why to-do lists boost productivity, one must first understand what a to-do list is at its very essence.

What is the to-do list?

In its simplest form, as previously stated, the to-do list is a way in which one can organize a series of tasks they wish to complete in an allotted period of time. It works by one first determining which tasks must be completed for the day and the steps that are required in order to successfully complete these tasks. From there onwards, an individual can begin to write down the tasks, either upon a physical piece of paper or through an online tool such as Microsoft Word, before organizing these specified tasks by priority. This, ultimately, allows an individual to visualize an effective strategy in accomplishing their tasks as they will see what assignment requires immediate attention and which assignments can be pushed to a later date. This provides one with some sense of organization and allows for them to stay upon task. In addition to this, the to-do list ensures individuals do not forget about important tasks as everything is written down. Simply put, the to-do list serves itself up as an external memory aid that can be highly effective in both the workforce as well as one’s own personal life.

What are the benefits of the to-do list?

The simple action of writing down a plan as to how one will go about tackling their tasks and goals for the day is highly beneficial in promoting productivity. This is because the to-do list allows one to harvest some sense of accomplishment as they can visually see themselves getting ‘closer’ to their goal each time they mark off a completed task from their to-do list. This further motivates an individual to continue working and staying on task as they wish to continue to feel this sense of accomplishment and progress. In addition to this, the to-do list benefits one by:

Improving memory

The use of a to-do list, as previously mentioned, works as an external memory aid. It allows one to keep track of everything, rather than just a few tasks from the top of one’s memory, further ensuring one does not forget an essential task.

Making achievable daily goals

When first attempting to complete a long series of work projects, one can often feel intimidated and at a loss of where to start. By breaking down a larger project into a smaller series of projects, and writing them down, one can begin to visualize a proper plan in tackling the larger task at hand. As one begins to consistently work towards completing the smaller projects upon their to-do list, they will ultimately be one step closer to finishing the far bigger task.

Saving Time

The use of a to-do list ensures one is able to identify which tasks are of most importance and must be completed first. This ensures that one is not bouncing between a wide array of different tasks which can be rather inefficient. When one has a written down plan, and a clear sense of direction, they can purely focus upon the first most important task at hand thus completing it and saving time. The to-do list simply helps one stay organized.

Why is the to-do list important in business?

The to-do list helps increase productivity, ensures one does not forget essential tasks, and helps one manage tasks in an effective manner which are all skills necessary for any business, position, or individual to succeed in accomplishing their goals. Therefore we recommend all, including our own virtual assistants, to begin utilizing the effective productivity hack of a to-do list in order to reap these previously stated benefits.


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