15 Tips for Writing More Effective To-Do Lists
I love to-do lists. I have a list for everything. For my routines, for my blog post ideas, for housework, for projects I’m working on, habits I want to track. If I can make a list for it, I probably have.
Lists are great for keeping us on track, spending our time more wisely, holding us accountable and reaching our goals.
A to-do list, though, is only as good as it’s creator. What I mean is that it’s no good just having these things written down, you need to actually take action on them. So today I want to talk to you guys about how to write a better to-do list for the day, so you can be more productive, tick things off and feel great about your progress.
Don’t overwhelm yourself. Usually it’s suggested to only have 3 to 10 items on your list. Not an entire A4 sheet of paper! Be realistic about how much you can get done in a day.
Have 1-3 MITs (Most Important Tasks) and mark them clearly, either by having them on top of your list, writing them in another colour, or by putting an * next to them.
I also like to have an MPT (Most Productive Task) on my list, this is one thing I can do that day to get closer to my goals.
Be more specific. For example “work on decluttering” is too broad and you won’t know where to start. “Start decluttering the crockery cupboard” is a much clearer task.
Schedule your tasks. Block off some time on your calendar to get the days’ tasks done. (Don’t forget to allow yourself some wiggle room to take breaks when needed though.)
Only write down what you need to get done today on your to-do list. Don’t start writing down all the other things you want to get done that don’t have a deadline coming up, or any deadline at all. All of those kind of things can be written on a separate “at some point” or “this week” list (or another kind of list to suit you, it’s your life).
Break bigger tasks down into smaller steps. For example: “decorate the bathroom” can be broken down to “decide on new colour for bathroom” or “browse Pinterest for bathroom decorating ideas”. Just make sure you write the main task on your “at some point” or “this week” list.
Try using time-stamps if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t get started because “it will take too long”. When you get to those tasks, time yourself, you may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can do something that you thought would take forever. Then, next time, you can write an accurate time-stamp.
Make a fresh list for a fresh day. Yesterday has been and gone, and you’re focusing on today.
Write it out where you’ll actually see it. There’s no point in using a notebook if you’ll never look at it, same as there’s no point in using an app you won’t open. Make your list in a place where you’re going to look at it every day.
You could also try writing down just three tasks. Something you MUST do today, something you SHOULD do, and something you WANT to do.
Write it out the night before. This will save you time from writing it in the morning, plus you can get straight to work on it as soon as your day starts.
Another way you could try is the 1-3-5 method. Write down 1 big task, 3 medium tasks, and 5 small tasks.
Adjust for your energy levels. If you know that you’re too groggy in the morning to do your MIT first thing, schedule it for the time that you start to feel more alert.
Try the Eisenhower Matrix. This is great for prioritising your lists. There are 4 sections:
– important and urgent – things to do next
– important but not urgent – things to plan for later
– urgent but not important – delegate where possible
– neither urgent nor important – eliminate
The most important tip I can give you is to make your to-do list work for you. If you try some of these tips and they don’t fit in with your lifestyle, no worries, just keeping testing things out for a while until something sticks. Maybe try a different approach each day and see which day you get more tasks ticked off?
If you found this helpful, or you have any other tips to share, please let me know in the comments.