The One Tip that Makes Your To-do List Better

Jumpstart Monday | Get your week off to a great start with the Day-Timer blog. Each Monday we’re going to feature a new tip to help you gain a more productive week at work and at home.
Today’s tip: Estimate your daily task time

You have a to-do list, but you’re still not getting enough done each day. Why? Because just making a list may not be enough to get you organized. There’s a way to take your planning one step further…

Try this:

Estimate task times for each item on your to-do list. Once you’ve chosen your activities for the day, take your best guess as to how long it should take you. Use the following steps:

  1. Assign realistic times to each task – rounded-up to the nearest 10 minutes
  2. Having trouble? You may need to break the task down into smaller steps
  3. Write in the times after each item on your to-do list
  4. Be conservative – allow yourself time for creativity, thought processing, personal needs, and distractions
  5. Include prep time – consider the time it takes to pull out your files, retrieve documents from your computer, and gather other necessary tools
  6. Leave a cushion – build-in transition time between tasks that allows you to review, regroup and take a break

Here’s why:

Knowing your task times allow you to create an action plan that is easier to follow. Once you have an idea of exactly what you should be doing and when, you will be less likely to procrastinate and be sidetracked by distractions and other less-important tasks.

Give it a go this week and see how much you gain from knowing your true task times.

Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at