The tried-and-true method of recording the day's tasks on a small paper card remains an essential tool of many of the world's most successful business people. Shivani Siroya, CEO of Tala, an innovative microloan startup, writes: "I've figured out how to make all these digital systems work for me, but I have to admit, at the end of the day, a list on paper still feels the most useful."
Try adhering to the 1-3-5 rule, used by the COO of The Muse, Alex Cavoulacos. Narrow your tasks down to nine items: one big one, three medium ones, and five smaller ones.
As you accomplish your tasks, including the smaller ones, cross them out. Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. Write time estimates beside the medium and smaller tasks to better pace yourself. Also, circle any tasks if you've begun them but need to finish later.
If you have not completed your to-do list within a day or two, throw it away, even if that means rewriting some tasks on a new card. This small action will keep you focused on your priorities.
Don't be in a rush to write your to-do list. Careful planning saves time in the long-run. Remember that the final goal you've imagined will never appear all at once. Focus on completing each step, trusting in the larger outcome.