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There’s one thing that most professionals, no matter how successful, always seem to struggle with, and that is the need to keep their productivity tools discretely separated if they are going to be effective. The goal should be to coordinate between different resources like a calendar, work tracker, and to-do list to make sure that your entire workflow is balanced, not to try to make one thing work when it wasn’t necessarily designed to handle everything you are throwing at it.
Using these tools improperly is about more than just making them less efficient. It can also lead to higher stress, less productivity than before they were adopted, and other challenges. Here is a quick guide to getting the most out of your to-do list by using it with your calendar instead of letting either one substitute for the other.
Most people like to have a variety of different work items throughout the day because it reduces fatigue and allows them to rotate to make the best use of the skills that are currently freshest. To have that flexibility, you need to know when deadlines are coming, and your schedule also needs to accommodate changing your mind on a regular basis. That is why it is important that your calendar only shows you delivery dates for your various projects. Scheduling them into a workflow should happen elsewhere, preferably through tracking and not anticipation.The goal should be to coordinate between different resources like a calendar, work tracker, and to-do list to make sure that your entire workflow is balanced, not to try to make one thing work when it wasn’t necessarily designed to handle everything.Click To Tweet
That is where your to-do list comes in. If you have a project that will require multiple sessions, you can add a work tracker to show how much time you have already spent, that way you can be sure you aren’t leaving everything to the last minute. This is much more effective than trying to pencil in specific work times for everything because it leaves more of your time uncommitted so that you can work in your own way through your project list.
Balancing Work and Life Commitments
Keeping your calendar pared down to the necessities in favor of other methods of task management also gives you more opportunity to take time out for life commitments by giving you a way to switch between different lists according to where your next deadline is and what aspect of your life it falls under. This means that when you do have life events on your mind, it becomes much easier to look at your organizational tools and decide whether or not you are going to be able to make time for it right away. This lets you smoothly move between commitments without feeling overburdened, which is actually more efficient than attempting to schedule everything.
Remember, your productivity tools are designed to be just that—tools. If you are finding that any of them are just not delivering the returns that you were promised they would deliver, then it’s time to change something. The key is to take a hard look at whether you need to change the tool or just the way you are using it.