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To-Do Lists: 10 Tips to Create Them Like a Pro

Steven 10 responses General

Scratching out those To-Do lists and still not getting anything done? Anyone can make a list. But it’s how you make it and what you do with it that counts. Here are 10 tips to create To-Do lists like a pro.

checklist increase productivity

  1. Physical Or Digital – Whichever Is Easier: I know you can put your list on your smartphone or set up a Google doc or use Notepad or whatever. But if it’s too hard to access your list you’re not going to use it. If pencil and paper works best, then use it.
  2. Put It On Your Keyboard: Leave your To-Do list on your keyboard at the end of the day so it’s the first thing you see in the morning.
  3. At Your Fingertips At All Times: Your list should be right out there in the open all day long so you can glance over and see what you’ve accomplished and what you have left to do. Another good reason for using pencil and paper.
  4. One Day At A Time: Make a separate list for each day. If you don’t have to do it until Friday then put it on Friday’s list.
  5. Prioritize: At the top of your list should be the things you absolutely need to accomplish today. Next, list the items you want to work on today that may not have to actually be finished until tomorrow. And finally, list items that aren’t necessarily a priority but you want to start on them today if you still have time.
  6. Things To Do Later: Leave room at the bottom to include things you want to work on sometime in the future, new ideas that pop into your head while you’re working and things you want to mull over before you decide if it’s something you really want to do.
  7. What NOT To Do: Include reminders of what NOT to do: Don’t check email until the end of the day, Don’t answer Skype until the end of the day, Don’t turn on the TV until you shut off your computer.
  8. Be Realistic: If you put more items on your list than you can actually accomplished in a day then you’re just going to stress yourself out. It’s not good planning, either. Re-prioritize your list and rearrange your weekly work schedule. This is what’s keeping you from getting everything done.
  9. Finish One Before You Move On: Only allow yourself to take a break or move on to the next item on the list if you’ve completed an item. Once you start on something, finish it.
  10. Update Tomorrow’s List: If you don’t get everything done, move those items into an appropriate position on tomorrow’s list. Then, re-evalute your work habits to see why those items didn’t get completed. Were you being overly ambitious when you created your list? Or did you waste time playing WOW today?

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10 Comments

  1. Mike Dancy

    I use Google Calendar for this. Syncs to all my devices.

    1. That’s a good way to do it Mike!

  2. Pauline

    Hi
    I love “to do” lists, I make them all the time usually with a pen & paper but I also use my online calendar to schedule my day.
    Thanks for sharing
    Pauline

    1. I wouldn’t be able to handle my online business without to-do lists :)

  3. Kevin Ocasio

    Some great tips in this post. I use to-do lists, as well as plan things out in my calendar (such as a blog publishing schedule) to help keep me organized. Otherwise, my brain would be all over the place! Thanks for sharing your tips :)

    1. Thanks for your comment Kevin. Keeping track and staying organized can prove to be a challenge sometimes ;)

  4. Mari

    I love To Do lists and the feeling of satisfaction I get from scratching off items as they are complete. Lately, though, I don’t think I’ve been as productive as I could be. I’ve created three lists (Daily, Ongoing, Research), but because they are on my phone, I forget to check them to see what’s next. I end of checking Facebook and Twitter instead! I think going back to old school pen and paper would work better for me. I like the idea of creating a separate list for each day of the week. Also, I agree with trying to be realistic about what can be accomplished. I shoot for 12 items per day. Thanks for the post!

    1. Thanks for your comment Mari!

  5. Johanna Jansen

    Hi Steven,

    To do lists that’s my specialty! May I contribute one more suggestion?

    Items on your list should be do-able, they should be actions you can see yourself doing and finishing. Otherwise they will just make you procrastinate.

    1. That’s very true Johanna. It’s important to divide every big project in bite-size tasks. Thanks for your comment.