To make a list of tasks is just a question of thinking about what to do, writing it down and doing it.
Unfortunately, that’s not how most lists work.
In reality, tasks may get listed, but only some get done. ‘Cherry picking’ tasks this way is perfectly understandable. But they tend to be those things that are easy or urgent.
If you want to know how to make a list of your tasks and to feel the satisfaction of crossing them all off, try this system:
You’ll need to create or buy a 'task diary'. This is simply an ordinary appointment diary in which your task lists will go.
If you prefer, customize a simple ring bound notebook to create your own. A page a day diary gives you plenty of space to list all your non-routine tasks.
Whenever a project or task crops up that passes your personal 'Worth Doing' filter, write it down in your task diary under tomorrow’s date. For example, if today is Monday 5th, list any tasks that come in during the day on the page for Tuesday 6th.
If it’s genuinely same-day urgent (and, honestly, most things aren’t) add the task to your list for the same day. Using the above example, if that type of task appeared on Tuesday add it to Tuesday's list. Don’t bother writing it down if it takes less time to do than to list.
At the end of each day, you’ll end up with a ‘closed’ list of things to do tomorrow. When you wake up on Tuesday, you’ll know you've only got to do Monday's task during the day (plus any same day urgent tasks). If you want to know how to make a list of tasks, this is the most effective way to actually do everything.
Some tasks will get done in one go. Others may take a bit longer. If you don’t finish it, write it down again under the following day’s date and repeat until complete. The Golden Rule is to do something about every single thing on your task list for the day, even if it’s only for a few seconds.
Let's say you end Tuesday with a list of 11 things to do tomorrow. How do you decide what to do when you wake up on Wednesday?
Estimate the available time you'll have to do something about all 11 things during the day, and (here's where we leave most time management advice) start with those that are most urgent.
Why? Because everything on your list is important, otherwise why bother listing it? As long as you practice the Golden Rule, your list will be made up of fewer and fewer urgent tasks.
Keep your task dairy somewhere you can see it and use it throughout the day. If you’re not a list-lover (or even if you are), develop the habit of using it. You'll soon find you know how to make a list that actually gets done each and every day.
This is one of the simplest but most effective systems you can put into place, and it will genuinely help you organize your time and tasks.
If you want to know more about this way of organizing your lists and tasks, try Mark Forster's superb book on the subject, Do It Tomorrow.