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Lists… 5 Ways to Manage Your Tasks

It may not come as a surprise to hear that 41% of tasks on your to-do list never get completed. So is it time to ditch the traditional epic list in favour of other methods? Check out these ideas for ticking off your tasks.

Pink post it notes with 'to do' written on

1. Swap your list for a table


In her book, Working Hard, Hardly Working, author Grace Beverly explains how prioritising your tasks helps you to manage your time better. At the start of each day she advises to feed all your tasks into a table and divide it into three columns:

  • ‘Quick ticks’ - which are things that will take five minutes or so.

  • ‘Tasks’ - that take up to 30 minutes.

  • ‘Projects’ - which are bigger things that you need to keep an eye on (these can be split into smaller, more manageable tasks).

Make sure to still include items that you won’t get done that day but still need to take into account. This helps you work out which tasks can be done first, scheduled for another day or passed on to someone else. This is a method Charlie uses to stop her getting overwhelmed by her to-do list.


2. Make three lists


With such busy lives, one list is never going to be enough to properly plan out your day. Executive coach Allison Rimm recommends keeping three lists to make sure you are prioritising the tasks that are most important rather than completing the easiest and most urgent ones.

  • List 1 is for important non-time sensitive tasks.

  • List 2 is for tasks you need to complete today.

  • List 3 is for the tasks that have been on your to-do lists forever but you’re never going to get done - this stops them sneaking back onto your actual to-do lists.

Start by scheduling the tasks in list 2 (the most urgent) into your calendar, then schedule list 1’s tasks for future dates - this helps you block out your time for the things that need it most.


3. Do one thing at a time


Executive coach Peter Bergmann recommends writing a long list of all the things you want to get done and then taking a post-it note or a clean sheet of paper and writing down one thing from the list that you want to accomplish.

If it’s a bigger project, break it down into a smaller more manageable task to start. Don’t go back to your list until you’ve completed the task. When you have, tick it off and pick another that you want to complete. This helps you focus on one thing at a time rather than flitting from one job to another.


4. Use an app


At The Arts VA, we use online apps to help us keep track of our to-do list and manage our workload. We use Todoist which allows us to make a different list for each client and share them with the team. Tasks can be easily ticked off and the lists regularly updated.

Asana is another good tool, especially if you work in a team and want to delegate tasks to colleagues and keep track of everyone’s progress.

5. Timebox


This is a method that is thought to promote productivity and prevent you from prioritising easier tasks. Get rid of the to-do list and instead use your digital calendar to allocate every task a fixed amount of time - estimate how long it will take and block that time off in advance. This can give you a deadline to work towards and help you manage your time and priorities better.

The Arts News

  • The Witches of Eastwick is returning to the West End this summer for one night only. The all-star concert, starring Giles Terera, will take place at the Sondheim Theatre on Monday 20th June. Tickets are now on sale, with further casting news to be announced.

  • The Tony Award winning Disney musical Newsies will premiere in the UK later this year. The show will play for a limited season at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre - performances begin on 28 November 2022 and tickets go on sale in May 2022.

Get in touch!


If you struggle to manage your to-do list, there's lots of ways a VA can help. Head to our contact us page to arrange a chat with Charlie.



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