How to make lists without any stress

We've all drowned under our to-do lists at some point. Here's how I keep from being overwhelmed with my head above water.

Photo: pxhere.com

This is a list about lists. As the school year progresses, midterms and assignments can make it really easy to add to a large pile of existing stress. You wouldn’t want to miss a deadline, so you make a little list. The week goes on and the list grows larger. It seems that for every item you tick off, two more items pop up.

This list is the list that listened to your lamentations. This list will end long lists for life.

1. Put a cap on the number of items on your list

Your list can get really long and actually hinder your workflow. Keeping a long list will only make you want to procrastinate more. All the good this does is let things pile on, and the more things that pile on, the more you feel like delaying it. It’s a vicious cycle you need to break. Think of a healthy number of tasks, beyond which you shouldn’t add any more.

2. Don’t add more items until you’ve crossed out a certain number of tasks

Adding to the first point, think before you add another item to a long list. You should think of finishing those tasks that won’t take much time immediately before you pile another item on.

3. Arrange the items on your lists

Never add items to a list at random. You could miss out on some of the most important tasks of the day this way. Ideally, put the items with higher priority at the top, and put those tasks at the bottom that don’t necessarily have a time constraint or an impending urgency.

4. Use tags to break a long list into two or more short ones

Apps like Google Keep allow you to use tags on your lists. Having one list for household chores and a separate one for assignments can help segregate your work and greatly improve your workflow. Tags essentially add a category to your list, making it very easy to see what a list is about very quickly.

5. Get rid of physical lists, use cross-platform apps instead

Post-It notes can be quite useful sometimes. But a mass of notes stuck to your table or on your laptop can make it quite hard to ‘leave work behind’ for a moment. Sometimes the best way to increase your work efficiency is to take a step back, collect yourself and get back to the work after an hour with a fresh perspective.

Physical lists and notes make it very hard to do this. You’ll find yourself chased by work wherever you go. A neat solution is to use cross-platform applications. These work on your phone, your tablet, or your computer. Some of them have a web version you can access from a library computer or your friend’s device as well. Google Keep, Any.do, and Microsoft To-Do List are some popular ones.

At the end of the day, the list is yours to make. The blue pill version would be to keep randomly attacking tasks until they disappear, but following a methodical approach should see you with a lot more spare time to do the things you love. Happy list-making!