How to Write a To-Do List That Gets Things Done

Posted January 23, 2019 by Thirty-Something Angie in Business & Productivity / 3 Comments

Is your to-do list not getting things done? Learn my top tips for writing a better to-do list right here!

Is your to-do list not getting things done? That’s because they’re not all created equal! Check out the tips below for making your to-do list more productive.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of to-do lists. It started out as a way to combat my anxiety, and has turned into something I do daily just to keep track and stay productive.

Still, it’s important to note that not all to-do lists are created equally. Ever make sure you added something you’ve already done, just so you can check it off? Yeah…that’s not exactly productive, is it? (Don’t worry. I’m not here to judge, because I’ve totally done that before, too).

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Want some tips on making your to-do list more effective?

Check out the tips below:

Goal Setting, To-Do List, Washi, Planner Girl

  1. Keep a master list: Usually, this starts out as a brain dump so I can get everything out of my head. From there, I organize it into a manageable list and keep it running through the week. I add tasks as I think of them, and refer to this list as I’m planning out each day.
  2. Batch tasks: Put similar items together on your list, so you can do them all at the same time. Have 3 separate emails to send? Write them together and get them all done at once. Need to run several errands? Write them all down together so you can knock it all out while you’re out of the house. This is especially helpful if you practice time-blocking, but try it either way. You’d be amazed at how much time it saves to do all of your similar tasks at once!
  3. Prioritize: I like to pick what I call a “Top 3” every day. These are my 3 non-negotiables that will help me reach my big goals. If I don’t do this, I know I’ll automatically gravitate towards the easiest and quickest tasks just so I can mark them off. This is fine, sometimes, because it helps shorten your list, but if you’re pushing off the most important things every day, you end up just spinning your wheels and accomplishing nothing big.
  4. Identify 5 minute tasks: I mentioned above that it’s not productive to push off your priorities in order to tackle small tasks. Instead, what I like to do is identify these tasks as “5 minute tasks.” These are things I could easily do in 5 minutes or less. Tasks on this list are things like taking out the garbage, wiping down counters, sending a quick text to a friend, etc. I do these tasks in the margins of time I find in my schedule.
  5. Be specific: This isn’t the place to list out your projects. A to-do list is a place to list out individual tasks. Keep that in mind and be as specific as possible. If you write down every single step in a project, you don’t have to stop and think about what you should do next. It’s already right there for you, on the list. Keep these tasks simple and manageable so you’re more likely to follow along with your list and get it all done.
  6. Consider what you will do in a day: When working on your list for the day, try answering the question, “What do I actually think I will do today?” I found this idea while browsing different ideas for to-do lists one day, and I really love the concept. Quite often, I find myself fighting against my to-do list. The tasks on it aren’t coming naturally to me at that time. Take this post for example. It was on my to-do list last week, and I spent over an hour trying to work on it. I just couldn’t wrap my head around this topic! That’s time I could have better spent doing research for another post that was on my mind at that time, but instead, I wasted it trying to force something that wasn’t working. Approach your to-do list by asking yourself that question, and then write down the answer. You’ll find yourself looking at your list in a whole new way!
  7. Be realistic: What can you actually get done in a day? If you habitually write extremely long to-do lists and leave a lot of it unchecked daily, consider breaking up your list a bit better. This is where prioritizing and keeping a master list can come in handy.

Productivity Tips, To-Do List, Work-at-Home Mom, MacBook

Not all to-do lists are motivating.

Most are filled with mundane, generic, and stressful tasks that can leave us feeling overwhelmed before we even begin. Writing a to-do list is a pretty simple task, but not always effective. Give the tips in this post a try the next time you write your list. They’ll help you craft your to-do list the right way, and you’ll be well on your way to a huge boost in productivity.


My Top Tips for Fighting Overwhelm

How to Set Goals You’ll Actually Accomplish

How to Start a Bullet Journal

5 Reasons You Might be Failing at Productivity

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3 responses to “How to Write a To-Do List That Gets Things Done

  1. Donna

    Love your blog. However, I am way past the 30’s and the light print is difficult to read for us elders! Your information is wonderful though.

  2. Rachel

    This is a great blog post on how to create a successful to do list. I love creating to do list to help me stay organized.

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