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Stepwise Success

To Do or To Don’t

Published May 5, 2014 6:03 AM by Scott Warner

Some people are list makers. It’s a good feeling to make a list and cross off things as they’re done. Research shows that writing down a task gives you a better chance of getting it done. It helps organize your mind at the start of the day for today, during your work, or at the end of the day for tomorrow. For many people, daily to do lists are a much-needed adjunct to their memories.

I’m not a list maker, for a few reasons. It takes valuable time to make a list, time to maintain it, and I find it stressful to have a constant reminder on the desk of things I haven’t done. For me, a to do list only nags my working memory. Oh, sure, I’ll make a list if I have to go to the grocery store, but at work I don’t find them terribly helpful. I arrange work on my desk in order, which is really all a list does, and as it’s done it’s cleared away.

That isn’t to say writing things down isn’t helpful. Here are two alternatives to a to do list:

  • Use your meeting minutes. Instead of reviewing meeting minutes and then reviewing a to do slash action plan at the end of the minutes, use the minutes as an action narrative. Your meeting minutes can be a living action plan to help manage your project.
  • Use priority grids. You’re not going to get to everything at once, of course. Another type of list is a grid that organizes ideas and tasks to when you’ll be able to get to them. An Eisenhower grid is one such tool. The point is to visually separate the items on your to do to make them more manageable.

Attach this grid to your meeting minutes or post. As new ideas are suggested, add them to the grid so you don’t forget them. This kind of tool gives a little more information than a traditional to-do list and might require less maintenance. It all depends on how you prefer to work. Maybe, this can work for you.

NEXT: My Favorite Apps

posted by Scott Warner
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About this Blog


    Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP)
    Occupation: Laboratory Manager
    Setting: Critical Access Hospital
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