To-do lists are action plans, but all too often we try to define those actions using wimpy, meaningless verbs. For a to-do list you can get some traction on, try replacing vague verbs with specific actions.
Photo by Courtney Dirks
Financial blog Wise Bread argues that fuzzy verbs and meaningless corporate speak have no place in our to-do lists:
Take the corporate-speak out of your to-do list. Verbs like "implement," "explore," "plan," "discuss," and "touch-base" turn actionable to-dos into fuzzy undones.
Precise language helps us understand what needs to be accomplished and lets us know when we've accomplished it. If it helps, break larger, more ambiguous verbs into smaller and simpler ones:
- Replace "plan" with "draft"
- Replace "touch base" with "meet"
- Replace "discuss" with "call"
In short, whenever you have a verb in your to-do list, see if you can break that verb down into a more precise action (or multiple, smaller actions). For example, the word "plan" can encompass a lot of smaller actions. List those. Instead of "contact Jim," specify whether you will call, email or visit and also list why, when and where. The more granular your list, the more likely you are to take action.
Check out the post at Wise Bread for more great tips on making your to-do list more effective.