Whip Your to-do List Into Shape

There are some simple ways to make your to-do list an asset to productivity and not just a useless and potentially depressing clerical exercise, says Harvard Business Review.

The Management Tip of the Day offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and HBR.org (www.hbr.org). Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters.

"For some people, to-do lists are life savers; they keep them organized and on task. For others, they're useless pieces of paper to ignore as they grow longer and longer.

Next time you sit down to write a to-do list (or decide to face up to an existing one), follow these two tips:

1. Break it down. To-dos are not the same as goals or projects. Only include specific tasks that move a project toward completion. If a to-do list item is too large to get done in one step, break it down further.

2. Include specifics. Help your future self out by including details that will make doing the task easier. Instead of 'Get in touch with Julie,' try 'Call Julie about next task force meeting at 555-5555.'"

-Today's management tip was adapted from "Guide to Getting the Right Work Done."