How to write to-do lists that actually work
After years of trying to create a to-do list that works for me, I have finally found a way to make it so that I actually follow through!
It’s honestly WAY easier than you may think it is, and in this post, I’ll be showing you the super simple steps I use (as well as all the things you SHOULDN’T be doing!).
First, let’s take a quick look at how *not* to create a to-do list.
Top to-do list mistakes
1. Adding too much to your to-do list
If you want to feel super overwhelmed, then by all means, fill your to-do list to the brim!
When your to-do list is filled with every single thing that you can think about doing during the day, you’re going to take one look at it and feel totally overwhelmed.
Your brain will start bouncing around and stressing over all the things it has to do, which will lead to nothing but a nasty case of choice-paralysis.
If you want to get stuff done during the day, then you need to keep your to-do list short and sweet – only add the essentials!
2. Not being specific enough
If your to-do list includes something along the lines of “work on ‘x’ task”, this means you’re not maximizing your list.
When you write down overly general statements like this, what you’re really doing is making more work for yourself later. Instead of looking at your to-do list and knowing exactly where you need to begin, you’ll spend way too much time trying to figure out how to actually START “working on ‘x’ task“.
You want to include specific and achievable tasks for the day. Make them detailed, make them clear, and make them 100% actionable.
3. Not making time for yourself
Free time is so important – not only for our happiness and wellbeing, but also for our productivity!
You need to make sure that you leave enough time in the day to do things for YOU (that is, self-care!).
I don’t think it’s possible to maximize your day – or your true potential – without self-care.
I like to schedule in self-care/free time on my to-do list so that I never forget to actually do it. The best thing is, I never feel like it’s something I have to do, but something I want to do. It’s a great way to break up your day and make it feel a whole lot easier.
Okay, now that we’ve covered what you shouldn’t be doing when writing your to-do list, it’s time to look at all the things you should be doing!
How to make your to-do list work for you
Step 1: Write down your intention
Writing an intention down in the morning is an amazing way to set the tone for your day.
It can be as simple as: “I will approach my day with positivity and appreciate the things that I’m doing for myself”.
Whatever it is, make sure to write it at the top of your to-do list, so that you are constantly reminded about it throughout the day.
Step 2: Only add 3 main tasks for the day
Including only 3 main tasks on your to-do list keeps your mind clear and ensures that you actually get each one done.
If you have multiple tasks that need to get done soon, break them down according to priority and spread them out over the week. Don’t be a hero and try to get them all done in one day.
There is, however, one small caveat to this. One scenario that can be super helpful in reducing your workload for the week is to have a “do day”. This is where you try to do as many little tasks and errands as you can in one day. I like to have my do day on a Monday, so that it drastically reduces the amount of clutter on my to-do list throughout the week.
Step 3: Add a simple habit tracker to your to-do list
I like having a very simple habit tracker on my to-do list that reminds me throughout the day to drink enough water, get in some exercise, and eat healthy snacks. It’s a great way to keep me accountable for my health and wellbeing while also getting things done!
I also like to add 3 new habits that I’m working on creating for the month to my habit tracker. Again, I keep these VERY simple (like making my bed in the morning, cleaning off my desk, and even eating my vegetables!).
The more I’m reminded to do these things, the more they become engrained in my routine. Eventually, I won’t even need to be reminded to do them!
Bonus: I always include meals on my to-do list!
I think that one of the most important factors in keeping productive throughout the day is eating healthy.
Eating full, balanced meals and healthy snacks is what gives our bodies (and brains!) the energy they need to sustain themselves while getting all our stuff done. This is why I like to include a daily meal planner on my to-do list.
Even just including a general idea of your meals for the day will take loads of stress off! Take a quick look in your fridge each morning and jot down on your list some simple meals and snacks you could make that will keep you feeling great!
Now that you’ve got the know-how, it’s time to put it into action!
You can grab a copy of my super easy meal planner and my simple printable to-do list by signing up for all of my free self-care and success worksheets.