Do you “do” the to-do list? If not, it’s time to start: a to-do list truly can help you complete the must-do tasks you need to complete each day.

Lifehacker.com in 2012 reported the following interesting factoid (from Janet Choi of iDoneThis): more than 60 percent (63 percent) of professionals surveyed at LinkedIn said they keep a to-do list.

However, of those who keep a to-do list (according to Choi):

  • 41% of to­-do items were never completed.
  • 50% of completed to-­do items are done within a day.
  • 18% of completed to­-do items are done within an hour.
  • 10% of completed to­-do items are done within a minute.

In a nutshell, this all means that we’re pretty darn bad at completing the things we’ve said we’re going to do. As for those that are completed? They get done quickly. What’s more, many tasks that do get done aren’t even on to-do lists!

So, what can you do to master your to-do list?

The problem is that we have too much stuff on our to-do lists for any given day and that we don’t create the kind of to-do list that will actually help us get the stuff on it done. We also tend to give ourselves too much time to get the things on the list done. If you’ve every procrastinated (and who among us hasn’t?), then you know that the old saw of having all the time in the world to do something results in taking all the time in the world to do it!

What’s more, our working days are full of interruptions, fires to put out, etc. Many things on our to-do lists, therefore, never get done because a crisis precludes doing so. As a healthcare professional, you’ve undoubtedly experienced this countless times a day.

So, how should you create and work with a to-do list?

  • Keep the items on the list extremely specific. Break a larger project into steps and place one or not more than two of those steps on your to-do list for any given day. You’re more likely to complete small tasks than a larger task (it can feel too overwhelming).
  • Keep flexibility in your to-do list for those emergencies that always will pop up. Track your to-do list for a week. How many things on it actually were done? If you notice, for example, that you regularly place 10 items on your to-do list, but only two get done because you needed to attend to unexpected events, never place more than two or three things on your list.
  • At the same time, prioritize. Place the most pressing – or even interesting – tasks first on the list.
  • Give yourself earlier deadlines. Remember that tasks done quickly or first thing are the ones that get done.
  • Finally, give yourself credit for getting those unexpected tasks done. Even if you didn’t get to one item on your to-do list, you still completed something that needed to be done. Write it down on the list after the fact and then cross it off. You did it; it’s done. Acknowledge it!

What type of to-do list do you use? Let us know here; it could help others struggling with managing their own to-do lists.

Whether you’re a PT, OT, RN, pharmacist, speech therapist, or another type of allied healthcare professional, if you’d like to learn more about a career as a healthcare traveler, contact the recruiters at MedPro Healthcare Staffing.

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