Nothing feels better than a well-crafted to-do list, and the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day when you just check off all of your tasks. A to-do list keeps you on track, it helps you move towards your goals, and makes you feel more productive and in control of your life. If you keep your to-do list sweet and short it is more likely that you’ll actually follow through.
There are so many ways to create a to-do list, but at the end of the day, it’s all about what works for you. This method is what works best for me. I hope you’ll find some inspiration here and you’ll be able to apply some of these tips to create a to-do list that works best for you.
1. Find a place for your to-do list
You can use a digital app, such as Asana, Todoist, Evernote, Google Keep, or Reminders on your phone, or you can use a simple notebook. Find something simple that you like, easy to access, and that you feel comfortable with. As soon as you remember you have to do something, write it down so that it becomes an item on your to-do list.
2. Create a master to-do list
At the beginning of each month, I like to write a master to-do list, a kind of brain dump with everything I have to do. I use a regular notebook, nothing fancy. It’s the place where I add more tasks every time I think of something that needs to be done. From the master to-do list, at the beginning of each week, I select the time-sensitive tasks for each day of the week.
3. Three most important tasks
I used to schedule way too many things every day, and of course, I would never finish my to-do list for the day. Rescheduling unfinished tasks again and again and not being able to check off all the tasks on my daily to-do list made me feel unaccomplished and always behind. So I learned to prioritize and now I start my to-do list for the day by choosing the 3 most important and urgent tasks, the ones that are contributing to my long-term goals. It’s actually the tasks that I always seem to put off, but I know they need to get done, you know… the ugliest frog. It’s the tasks that will have the most impact on my day and that will make me feel the most accomplished. I don’t go to the next tasks until I finish these first.
4. Three smaller, but still important tasks
Because not every task is created equal, you will also have some secondary tasks on your to-do list. These are 3 secondary tasks of importance, work stuff that should be done or that you want to do, like pay the bills, check and answer email, or send invoices.
Of course, you’ll get more done than these 6 things. If you have a few minutes of downtime at the end of the day, you can always check your master to-do list and see what other small tasks you can tackle to make the best use of your time. These are small tasks that you will be able to take care of quickly, such as clean your car, fold some clothes, organize one drawer, or tidy up your desk.
5. Make your to-do list clear
If your tasks are too broad or vague (write a blog post or clean the house) it is going to be hard for you to get started. Take your most important objective and break it into smaller, easier to tackle tasks and subtasks that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and have a timeline. That is going to make it easier for you to start, and once you start something, you tend to continue. For example, instead of “plan birthday party”, which is totally overwhelming and way too broad, write down: order birthday cake, make a guest list, buy paper plates, decorate the living room, etc.
6. Stay in touch with your goals and your to-do list
Spend some time every night to plan your next day’s to-do list: choose your most important tasks, reschedule and add more tasks from your master to do list. Do this for the next month and see the results. Remember that the best to-do lists are the ones that remind you what to do next, rather than make you feel good because you accomplished everything at the end of the day.
And if sometimes you fall behind and a crisis does strike, remember to stop and breathe. You’ll definitely get everything under control again.
How do you write your to-do list? Do you have any tricks or tips? Let me know in the comments below.
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Andrea Schwartz says
I could not get through my workday without my list and calendar. I have so many interruptions, it’s the only way to keep my place and remember what tasks I’ve completed. It’s such a great time saver!
I totally agree with you! Having everything on a to-do list or on calendar makes such a difference! 🙂
I can’t live without my lists!
Vanessa / FashionAveMom says
This is great! Totally needed these tips!
Lists make me feel so accomplished! And if something is not on my list, but I already did it, I add it and then cross it off!!
Haha! I do that too! So satisfying! 🙂
Keri Snyder (@kerilynnsnyder) says
Having a master to do list has been key for me!
I’ve recently started using a to-do-list and I love it. I would definitely agree on the – making it clear and specific part.
This is excellent – bookmarking it! I agree it’s a necessity to do the “brain dump” (I have a notebook – some how it helps me to have it written out the old-fashioned way on paper!), and then organize, chunk, categorize, and prioritize for the greatest effect. I have also been one who tends to include entirely too much in one day than is humanly possible, and this of course just leads to frustration and discouragement – and what’s the point in doing that, when making a list is supposed to HELP us?
I, too, love the “old-fashioned way on paper”. It slows me down and it gives me more time to think. Thank you for stopping by! 🙂