Efficient List Making

juggling tasks

Ever feel like life was a merry-go-round you were trapped on, wishing it would slow down? But instead of slowing down, life just seems to keep getting busier. For me it’s my kid’s activities, operating my own business (DinerWear®) and helping out my aging parents, along with all the day-to-day needs of keeping house and home in order. I often feel like the plate spinner from the Ed Sullivan show. Unfortunately, for now, life is not going to get any slower, so I need to be more efficient with my time.

As an Industrial Engineering, I’m all about efficiency, and part of being efficient is making lists. I love following the List Producer (check out Paula Rizzo at listproducer.com). She has tons of great advice about efficient ways to use your time. I often feel silly when she reminds me to write lists because I’ve even been known to write out a schedule with completion times for each task (something I did for production lines during my plant management days). Efficiency was my career.


Writing a list is one thing. Following it is often something else. So I’m proposing a more specific approach to list making.

  1. Make a list: Start by writing down everything you need to do. Go ahead, write EVERYTHING down. And every time you think of something you need to do, unless it is an absolute emergency, just add it to your list.
  2. Prioritize the list: What needs to get done today, this week, this month. Use the master list of things to do to fill your Daily To Do List. Be careful not to over book your day. This could have you feeling overwhelmed and interfere with your focus. And accomplishing your list will give you that much needed boost of confidence. (Don’t worry, if you finish everything, you can always add.)
  3. Schedule your day: Identify what you’ll do in the morning, what is best completed in the afternoon, and what can be squeezed in between. Are some of the things on your list time sensitive? Are they tied to someone else’s schedule? For example, a phone call to CA from NY may not be possible first thing in the morning, so schedule it for the afternoon. Are you more alert in the morning? Do the things that require more brain power in the morning and the less demanding things in the afternoon. You get the idea.
  4. Implement: This means focus on task at hand and don’t allow yourself to get side tracked. Remember, if another idea pops into your head, write it on your master to do list. By concentrating your present task, you will get it done quicker. That old concept of multi-tasking has been disproven. Multi-tasking is actually a distraction and a productivity killer. Just read this article from health.com. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20707868,00.html


Ultimately, staying focused on a few key things you need to do will help you be more efficient with your time. Being more efficient with your time will give you more of it and maybe you’ll even have time for things you WANT to do.

Give it a try:

  1. Make a list
  2. Prioritize the list
  3. Schedule your day
  4. Implement – one thing at a time with NO distractions.

Good Luck!

Oh and don’t forget, when you’re looking for efficiency, remember to wear your Cravaat dining scarf. You may not think you need an adult bib, but you’ll be happy when it’s time to do the laundry and don’t have to take the extra time to treat stains.

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