How to write efficient to-do lists

One of the ways to keep track of your ongoing tasks is to have a to-do list. It will help you stay organized and be on track. I’ve been consulting teachers about staying organized, and I do know that to-do lists can increase and decrease motivation. It all depends on the approach and how you make your to-do lists. I believe that there are two types of to-do lists: the ones that work and make you feel content and those that do not work and make you feel miserable. Our goal is to feel complete and joyful, right? 

What exactly should be included in your list

Well, firstly, to-do lists are not brain dumps. Your to-do list is not a freaking list of every single thing you should/have to do during your day/week/month. I bet this list would be 8 miles long. Probably, it will make you feel overwhelmed only by looking at it. Right? Honestly, I would faint if I saw all the things I should do during the day.

There is nothing wrong with free writing about the things you’re going to do. However, then you should select tasks that will form your efficient to-do list. Make sure that you don’t include your habits. It makes your to-do list longer because you may have plenty of habits.

However, when I started new habits, I included them in my to-do list. Then, I excluded them. For example, in 2021, I wanted to prepare for my IPA exam. So my goal was to do some exercises every day. The best application to track my habits is Loop Habit Tracker (I’ve got it on Android, and it is free of charge. It’s not an ad).

Certainly, I’ve seen to-do lists, which include the responsibilities of colleagues/family members. Seems like you’re writing to-do lists for your colleagues/family members. For this purpose, I recommend using project boards, for example, Trello. Trello is a collaborative tool that facilitates the organization of projects into boards.

If I wrote a list of responsibilities of my colleagues/family members, I would collapse just looking at it.

Take a look at your to-do list. If you see any goals there, cross them out. When you have a goal, you should write a plan to achieve it.

Include deadlines

Then, there should be deadlines. I like writing to-do lists every day. Thus, I can clearly see what I intend to do.

Include different categories

Make sure that your to-do list should have different categories. It should not be one long list. Having different categories will help you navigate your tasks easier and faster. My categories are “personal,” “work,” “to write,” and “to buy.” These 4 categories are present in my everyday life. Therefore, I can precisely see the areas of my “doings.” Also, I write my tasks in the order I want to do them. It makes my life easier.

You can see that some of my to-do lists (in 2021) have got some habits. Let me explain that. I was studying a lot, on top of my work, and often missed my skincare, especially in the evenings. It was a good decision to include it. In addition, this is a great feeling when I start my day and already have something completed. Besides, I included listening to audiobooks. I wanted it to be a habit. But I gave this idea up eventually, as I memorize information better when I read. Moreover, I love highlighting, using different colors, and returning to my notes. This is my favorite way of receiving information.

Learn to delegate

I know some teachers who did not delegate any tasks at all. They were sure that it was a sign of weakness. Let me assure you that it is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of completing more tasks without spending time on them. 

If you think that you need to have an assistant to delegate tasks, you are wrong. For example, instead of going to a grocery store, it is possible to order groceries online, and they will be delivered to your apartment. Or maybe it is possible to pick them up at a pick-up point.

Make sure that your to-do lists are easy to edit

To-do lists should be not only easy to edit but also easy to find. I love using Canva for composing my to-do lists. Sometimes I use my desktop version, and sometimes I do it on my phone. So I can change something quickly and trouble-free. I choose the Stories format because I often share my to-do lists on Instagram.

Realistic and doable

Double-check if your list is realistic and doable. Take a look if you have enough time and other resources to complete your tasks. For example, you know your everyday routine/tasks and how much time you spend on them. So, it will help you to understand which tasks you can do today or any other day. I highly recommend you track your time to get a clearer vision of how much time you spend on what. It really helps with planning more efficiently. I’ve been tracking my time since 2018 and benefited significantly from it. In February 2020, I bought a time-tracking device — a cube with 8 sides — from TimeUlar. You download their app, connect it to the cube, and every time you start doing a task you flip the cube, and it starts tracking your time. They also have a desktop version. It is not necessary to buy the cube, you can just download their app and choose the subscription that suits you. I promise, I will write a blog post about tracking time. 

Tracking time, I have learned how much time exactly I spent on this or that task. For instance, I know that it takes me from 5 to 15 min to take a shower; I can make a salad in 6 min and eat it in 3 min if I am rushing. Every year, I take a course in speech-language pathology as a part of my professional development. The schedule is crazy: the classes are every day, and they last for 5–7 hours. Sometimes they give us breaks of 5—15 min. If a break is 5 min, I clearly know what I can do. 3 min — for the bathroom, 1 min — for a phone call, and 3 min for a ready-made salad. 

Forgive yourself

Accepting the fact that you do not complete your to-do lists 100% is important. We are all human beings. We all might have force majeure situations. A kid gets sick, or you feel under the weather, or you missed a bus. Such events influence our plans and intentions. Life happens. We are not perfect. That is why forgiving yourself for not completing your tasks is essential.

You may benefit from my videos about time management on my YouTube channel.

Do you have anything to add to my blog post? Let me know in the comments below.

9 відповідей до “How to write efficient to-do lists”

  1. I have such a love/hate relationship with to-do lists 😂 My most successful ones are when I write 3-5 items for a day on a post it note in order of priority. It’s so satisfying to recycle it at the end of the day when I actually managed to get everything done 😂

  2. I love a good to do list and I love this how to write efficient to do lists guide. My favorite tip was setting a deadline. Too many times we write open ended lists and we don’t set a goal. Without a goal it’s just a wish!

  3. These are great things and very important. Definitely need to make it doable it.

  4. I’m a huge fan of keeping a to-do list daily. It really helps to keep me on track and focused. But, I try not to overwhelm myself either.

  5. I definitely need to take notes of this haha appropriate for me thank you!

  6. Great tips! I’m a former teacher turned homemaker so I can definitely relate to this post!

  7. Great points! Setting deadlines but being realistic are super important. I need to get back into daily to-do lists.

  8. Being realistic with how much you can get done in a day is the key to stop being constantly unsatisfied and stressed 🙂 Great tips!

  9. I love to do lists but doing them in way that makes sense to you is so important! Love the idea of breaking the items down into different categories! I love that you mentioned about making sure the tasks are all doable as SO often we write loads of things that would take at least a week lol so then they don’t get done and need moved to the next day which isn’t ideal!

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