How to improve your to-do list

You’re so busy right now, how do you keep track of everything? How do you make sure you don’t forget anything while trying to reach your goals? For many people, the answer lies in making a to-do list. It’s a handy little tool that allows you to lay out all the tasks you need to complete on a given day, prioritize them, and then manage your time to complete them. To-do lists can be written on paper, stored in a notebook, or created electronically. Really, a to-do list can be anything you want it to be – the sky’s the limit.

But what if you find that even when you’re making your lists, things still aren’t getting done? Or what if you’re simply creating them and then forgetting them the next day? How can you make sure you’re getting the most out of your to-do list, and how can you make them better? Here are just a few things you can try.


Keep it simple

Keep your list short, simple, and to the point. Do yourself a favor and don’t include every little thing that you’d like to get done or need to get done that day. If you do, you’ll quickly find a mile long list that leaves you paralyzed. Instead, fill your to-do list only with the most important or pressing tasks for the day. You want your list to be realistic, not overwhelming. Additionally, be sure to keep just one list. Centralize it within a journal, a file on your hard drive, or within an app on your phone. Resist the urge to write down your list on scraps of paper like Post-it notes or receipts. If you do, chances are you’ll misplace your list and forget something.

Break it down

Take each big task on your list and break it down into smaller, more manageable parts. Use lists, flow charts, or other visuals to create a plan that you can easily execute. By breaking down each task further, it will also give you a better sense of how long it will take you to complete it and what the entire project entails.

Start with your biggest task first

After you’ve planned out and prioritized your day, consider starting with the biggest task on your list. Tackle it when you’re feeling the most productive and energetic so that you can get more done. Later in the day, when you’re feeling tired or drained you can then focus on completing simple tasks.


Start with your most unpleasant task first

Alternatively, choose to tackle the most unpleasant task on your list first. If you spend all day working on the more enjoyable tasks first, you might just be tempted to keep putting off those unpleasant ones for later. Instead, get it done and out of the way so you don’t have to sit and procrastinate doing them. It will leave you feeling more efficient and productive.

Keep track of what you’ve completed

Create a separate list where you keep track of everything you’ve completed, or simply cross it off when you’re done. Seeing all you’ve accomplished can be a great motivational booster and will keep you on track. If you realize you aren’t getting certain things done, your done list can also serve as a wonderful tool to help you understand why that is. Additionally, it can help you re-prioritize your lists later.

Consider sharing your to do list

While it might leave you feeling a little uncomfortable, sharing your list with friends or family can help hold you a little more accountable for your actions. Having the public be aware of your goals and plans may be that extra push you need in order to motivate you to reach your goals.

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