To-do lists

Why a to-do list? Isn’t it just an administrative burden? Here are a few tangible values that to-do lists bring about:

  • A simple way of providing high service quality: Everyone is aware of your priorities at all times. No need for seniors to wait for a report. No need for seniors to ask whether something is forgotten.
  • Tasks are never forgotten.
  • Everyone is aware of your workload, and where to fit in new tasks in terms of priorities.
  • Allows you to structure valuable tasks that you have grabbed. This allows you to grow your team.
  • Plus all the benefits of radical transparency.

Don’t strive to show that “you have completed all work” by leaving your to-do list empty. A long list means that you are able to grab work and plan ahead. It shows that your team is ready to accept new members to whom you can easily delegate defined tasks.

So don’t panic when seniors bombard you with tasks and new responsibilities. Welcome them; it’s an opportunity to grow your team and for you to take on a more senior position.

Ideally, you should be able to accept new members into your team at any time, given that they are carefully recruited and perform well of course. Over the past years at LiteBreeze there’s never been a lack of work for anyone irrespective of the department.

Technical staff can include tasks which are not related to client projects such as appraisal input, case studies, blog posts and share with their seniors at LiteBreeze.

Project-related to-do lists, in addition to sprint work plans, might be handy in some situations. Non-technical staff will use to-do lists more actively.

Set up your to-do list as a Google doc named “To-do list – Your name”. Give edit permissions to your Gdoc so that seniors can re-prioritize tasks and track your revisions. Bookmark your junior colleagues’ to-dos in a separate bookmark folder.

Share your to-do list broadly; transparency is a good thing.

Here’s a sample to-do list structure. The exact structure may need to differ based on your role, department, quantity of grabbed tasks etc.

Specific instructions:

  • Order tasks within each section by priority.
  • Add an internal estimated date of completion for imminent tasks.
  • Make high and medium priority very specific. E.g. “Blog post: welcoming Name”. Lower priority tasks can be more vague: “Blog posts: share project-related content”.
  • Time-consuming tasks can often be broken down into differently prioritized tasks with a focus on the most HILE. Instead of “Case studies: improve all” break down into “1) perfection of top ten cases 2) quick check of archived cases 3) perfection of archived cases”.
  • Recurring routines don’t necessarily have to be added to your to-do. Everyone has many routines as part of their daily job and there’s no point in listing all. Add an important routine as a recurring Google calendar event.
  • Crucial routines can optionally be added under a separate Routines-heading at the bottom of your todo. Just to show seniors that you got it under control, and to make it easy to hand over routines to new hires.
  • Share it with relevant colleagues. Be transparent, it improves SQ and collaboration.

Personally, I have around eight different to-do lists: accounting and tax planning, coaching, marketing, office 2018 / office expansion, systems/portal development, recruitment, administrative, low-effort tasks (that can be worked on if tired).

My to-do list is shared with top seniors.

Low-priority doesn’t mean that it’s a task of little value. A long list of low priority task means that you should consider growing your team, to recruit new members for your team and that you might need to delegate more aggressively.

You will need to re-think and reorder your to-dos quite often, as the impact that a task has will change often. A non-urgent task sometimes becomes a HILE task as you take part in new information.

Work with your to-do actively. It will become a natural habit to update it at least once per week.