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Questions to ask as you make today’s ‘to-do’ list

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As you contemplate the activities for today's to-do list, trainer Timo Kiander suggests on Lifehack.org that you ask four questions to help set your course:

What else do I have on the schedule? It's easy to put too many tasks on your list, given the other commitments you have. If you're travelling or have a blizzard of meetings to attend, make sure the to-do list reflects those commitments.

Is the task a "gatekeeper"? Some tasks, if not completed, prevent you from attacking other activities because these gatekeepers must be done first. Look out for such gatekeepers, and remember they are part of a sequence, perhaps needing greater attention because of that role.

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Do you have any "icebergs" on the list? Some tasks are much bigger than they seem at first glance. Be alert to such icebergs, and try to split them into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Is the task distraction-proof? Some tasks can be undertaken amid distractions, while others require your full attention. Understanding this may point to when and where to attack them.

"When you plan your days, you should truly understand the tasks you are about to do – and what it takes to accomplish them," Mr. Kiander writes.

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About the Author
Management columnist

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. More

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