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To Do Lists: A Magnificent Tool

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Want to feel like a Job Search Rock Star? Managing your to-do lists may help to get you there.

When you’re looking for work, your day-to-day schedule involves a mix of tweaking resumes for job applications, researching companies, networking and following-up, browsing LinkedIn, going for interviews, and probably taking a short course or doing some volunteering.

If you’re job searching in the best way possible, you’re busy and you have loads of ideas on following and creating leads. This means you are pulled in multiple directions and need a to-do list to keep you organized.

I am an enthusiastic fan of such lists. I write them every day, cross tasks off as I complete them and review them at the end of the week to see what items need to be moved into the next week.

A recent article in The Muse (“35 Daily Habits You Should Really Steal from Successful People) offered a few interesting suggestions on refining the tried and true to-do list. Here are three of them:

1)      Prioritize your list of tasks. Normally this will happen pretty naturally. If you have to apply for a job before a deadline, that task becomes an immediate priority. Yet, there are other factors in prioritizing, too. Some of the tasks on my list are things I really enjoy (like researching). Other things on my list are less enjoyable (like following up after an application or interview). My natural tendency is to do the things I like first and stretch them out. But when that happens, the less pleasant tasks rarely get completed. Many people make an effort to accomplish the least-enjoyable tasks first and get them out of the way. That seems like a great strategy and a great way to get through the many items on a list of things to do.

2)      Make a daily “Top Three” to-do list. Similar to suggestion 1, the Top Three would be your priority items. However, having a small number, like three, makes you feel like a winner every day. Part of the reason to-do lists work so well is that you feel successful each time you cross an item off because you’ve completed it. You feel like a Master of Self-Organization. Imagine if you set three important things for yourself, did them every day (ideally before noon) and then moved on to other items. It’s like telling yourself you’ve exceeded your goals every single day. That seems like an OK way to manage a job search, or life.

3)      Cut items out of your list. A lot of items on your short list are things you might be doing for other people that they can do themselves. If you find yourself burdened by lengthy lists, consider handing those to other people. When you’re job searching, you may receive a lot of the home chores that your family members could easily handle. Other tasks may just be less important tasks that are bogging you down. Cutting items so that you are selecting the most important tasks will keep you focused on your main goal.

To-do lists offer benefits in helping you stay organized and motivated, but they can also get too long and hard to manage. By prioritizing, limiting and cutting items on your list, you can have a more effective experience.


Gwen PawlikowskiAbout the Author:
Gwen Pawlikowski is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who has also worked as an ISSofBC employment counsellor with newcomers. She lives in New Westminster and loves the diversity of the Lower Mainland. Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.

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