With multiple tasks to be done, work can get quite daunting at times. Maintaining a to-do list can make your workload easier to handle. From helping you track completed jobs to assisting you in allocating your time to the tasks still pending, to-do lists can be of great help.

While it has many takers, most users of to-do lists don’t know how to use them effectively. Here are a few things that you need to do, to get the best out of your to-do list:

Avoid common mistakes

Creating to-do lists might seem easy, but a closer look at it will tell you how much thought needs to go into creating your list. Most people use lists to get their work done sans any hiccups. A few common mistakes that people often make when creating lists are:

· Mixing up quality and quantity – The amount of work you do and the nature of the work you handle are very different things. People often forget to account for the complexity of the tasks before including them in the list. Including multiple high-complexity jobs on your list may prevent you from completing the work you want to be finished. Instead, have a mixture of high-complexity and low-complexity jobs.

· Creating really long lists – While it’s important to get more work done, a really long to-do list can detract your attention from individual items. You may be so focused on completing the list that you may not concentrate on doing a good job on the tasks you are taking up.

· Using to-do lists as a yardstick for performance measurement – A to-do list should only serve as a guide to organizing your work. Avoid using these lists as the baseline for performance measurement, as you may end up pressurizing yourself to create the ‘perfect’ list.

Keep your list short and simple

The ideal list is not more than 3-5 items long. A shorter list is easier to tackle and it motivates the user to complete the tasks. Prioritize your activities and pick only those tasks that absolutely need to get done.

Write your lists in advance

Planning and writing your lists the previous night can help you get a bird’s eye view of the tasks that require your attention. You will also have time to plan the implementation of your list.

First thing’s first

Ideally, the very first item on your to-do list has to be the one that is of highest priority. Make sure that the first job you do is the first one on your list. You’ll be fresh and energetic in the morning, which will help you finish your work faster.

Use the method that works for you

Some people find writing their to-do lists in diaries more convenient, whereas others may need software to help them organize their workload. Whichever way you go, be sure to choose a method that is comfortable for you, as it will help you do a better job.