4 Steps To Make A Simple To-Do List That Actually Works!

Posted: March 5, 2019

Making a to-do list is easy, but getting it to work for you? This article will help you approach to-do lists the right way, become more productive and also feel so good about yourself!

I’m a typical Type B. Planning rarely was important to me. I lived with this philosophy all through my college years and maybe it worked back then because there were fewer responsibilities and there wasn’t much to compartmentalise or prioritise. But as I grew up and started working, I experienced what is very easily put across as ‘Cluelessness’. I would feel overwhelmed at not knowing what to do and where to start and eventually go through a phase of not having done anything and feeling disappointed. Most people who tend to procrastinate often go through this.

Over the years I’ve come to understand the importance of making a To-Do list and why it can be extremely helpful.

To-Do lists are quite easy to make, but also misunderstood. Each time I talk of a To-Do list in my sessions I’ve heard women say, “It never works!” or “I never seem to get things done at all” or “This time-management thing is a waste of time for me” or “I’m not a planner” and so on and so forth. I felt pretty much the same for most reasons till I learned how to make a To-Do list that’s effective and comfortable to work around.

In this post, I’m going to share with you the way I make my To-Do list and a few tips on how you can make one as well.

So, here goes!

1. Write it all down

Yes, there are apps now for all this. But I always prefer it old school. Writing it all down on an actual paper with a pen makes it permanent. Once you’ve visually seen the task, you’re more likely to get it done. I usually make my To-Do list in the morning with my first cup of coffee. It’s the perfect time for me as the day just starts and I can make a list that works for me. A lot of Entrepreneurs, blogs, articles suggest that you make a To-Do list the night before, but it’s never worked well for me. I like to wind down at the end of the day and feel quite restless for the next day if I make my To-Do the night before. You could either make your list in the night or the morning depending on what works for you. I’m currently using the Planner by The Ink Bucket to make my list. The planners I recommend are from Alicia Souza, Creative Middle, The Ink Bucket.

2. Categorise it

I usually put them in certain categories such as – “Evening” or “Errands” or “Important” – this way I know how to go about my day without feeling lost or overwhelmed. This list usually depends on the task and your comfort. This part is usually extremely easy and light for some people. For some it gets extremely difficult. A lot of women I’ve personally worked with go really creative with this part and create some fun lists such as – “Don’t Do This” List or “Things that annoy” list or “DND” list and each list has a purpose which makes this task so much more fun and easier to get along with. So, either stick with the simple To-Do or go all in and get creative. It’s totally up to you.

3. Scratch out the ones that can be put away for tomorrow

This is the most important step while preparing a to-do list. In other words, this is close to prioritizing. When we think about it there’s not much to do but when we write it all down there’s so much, we think we need to do. This is normal and not wrong. However, I do feel that we get a bit too ambitious or anxious and try to do “Everything” in one day. There are only so many hours in a day and only so much your mind and body can handle. So, take a breather and feel free to put something for tomorrow. Its okay if you have only 5 tasks on your to-do instead of 10. It doesn’t mean you’re less productive. Please remember your list needs to be effective instead of busy.

4. Write the tasks achieved and celebrate your success

This is important. Not many people do this. Apart from checking the achieved item off your to-do list make an extra effort to write it all down and name it “Achieved task”. Writing what you’ve achieved in a day can be extremely motivating and encouraging. This can be done as an “End of the day” ritual. I usually write this in the evening as a wind down. I not only feel good about my day but also look forward to the next day.

Things to remember when preparing a To-Do list –

  1. It’s okay if you don’t get it right – Usually I ask my clients to break the tasks into smaller, clear and specific tasks and ask them to time it (For E.g., Preparing Breakfast – 10 minutes. Eating Breakfast – 30 minutes). This really helps those who feel they need to understand how they spend their time. But I work with women entrepreneurs many of whom feel they’re obliged to get it perfect and right, which is not true. The idea is not to get it right, the idea is to progress and try and get as much done as you can.

  2. Make space for uncertainty – I get to hear this quite often, “I got really upset because my schedule was interrupted”. I get it. It can get a bit disturbing but that’s completely okay. It’s healthy to make space for something that’s uncertain or planned.

  3. Add breaks – If you’re anything like me, you work at a stretch. This really has a very bad effect on my body. To avoid that, I tend to add breaks to my list. This usually depends on how you make your list and how often you need a reminder to take a break.

So, that’s it. This is how I prepare my To-Do list. If you’re searching for a way to work effectively this method is quite simple and easy to follow. I hope this article would’ve helped you in some way.

First published at author’s blog.

Image via Pexels

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A Psychologist, Blogger, Entrepreneur, bibliophile, stationary buff. Love writing, poetry, coffee, An introvert and dreamer.

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