A lot of students use a to-do list to organize their work. Many of these lists,
however, do not increase productivity or decrease procrastination. There are three
very important things that separate effective to-do lists from ineffective ones:
making a new list every day, prioritizing the items on the list, and breaking items
down into small pieces.
1. On the next page, write down everything you would like to accomplish
tomorrow. This includes class readings, work on papers or problem sets,
chores, errands, phone-calls, exercising, etc…
2. Now look at each item and, if it feels too big to start, try to break it down
into smaller pieces. For example, don't write down “study for exam” or “write
research paper.” These items are huge and require many hours to complete ?
and we often put them off because we don't know where to start. Instead, break
the studying down into “review chapters 2-5,” “review chapters 6-10,” “do six
practice problems,” etc… and the research paper into “spend 1 hour collecting
articles at the library,” “write an outline,” “write introduction,” etc… These
items are much smaller, easier to start, and more likely to get done.
3. Next, prioritize this list by placing one of the following letters next to each
A - Highest priority. Getting these items done tomorrow is very important.
B - Medium priority. You would really like to finish / accomplish these
things, but they can wait if you run out of time.
C ? Lowest priority. Getting these items done tomorrow is not very
4. Now think about when you will have blocks of time to devote to each of these
items, making sure you take care of the ‘A' items first and the ‘C' items last.
Do this exercise daily: it is an effective way of managing your time.
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