10 Tips to Create To-Do Lists Like a Pro!

By Daniel Scocco

tips to do listWhile creating and using to-do lists is relatively simple, there are some tips and tricks you can use to multiply their effectiveness. Below I’ll share with you the 10 tips I learned with my to-do lists over the years.

1. Choose the Right Medium

Your to-do list must be in a place that is easily accessible. For most people this will be a small notepad that sits on their desks, but it might also be an application on your computer, your smartphone and so on. Just make sure that you will be able to add, remove and edit entries on your list easily.

2. Leave the List Visible All Day Long

It is essential to have your to-do list in front of your eyes all day long. This will reinforce the sense of urgency and get you working on your tasks as soon as you start slacking off.

3. Start Your Day with Your To-Do List

Develop the habit of sitting down and writing your to-do list at the beginning of every day. This is the best time to plan things out, because your mind is fresh and because you should have a good grasp of the important things that need to be done that day.

4. List Tasks for That Day Only

Do not try to plan the whole week or even a couple of days ahead. Focus on the tasks that need to be completed on that single day. You can’t know what will come up during the day, so the priorities for the day after might change.

5. Put the Important Tasks On Top

Always put the important tasks on top. First things first, as they say. It is also essential to tackle the tasks in order, else putting the important ones on top would be useless.

6. Have A Separate Section To Write Down Ideas and Notes

It is very likely that during the day new ideas and tasks will come up. Do not mix those with your existing to-do list, however, else you will mess things up. Instead have a section where you can write down ideas and other annotations, and then use them as input for tomorrow’s list.

7. List the Things You Are NOT Supposed To Do As Well

Apart from listing the stuff you need to do you can also list the stuff you are NOT supposed to do. If you lose productivity because you check your email every 10 minutes and keep logged on Twitter all day long, for example, you could have one entry on your to-do list as “Check Email Only Twice A Day” and another one as “Open Twitter Only After 6pm”. Then you would cross those tasks at the end of the day if you manage to respect them.

8. List A Realistic Number of Tasks

Even if you are feeling good in the morning, don’t try to add everything that comes to your head to your to-do list. Instead put a realistic number of activities there, and try to finish all of them by the end of the day. Listing too many tasks might discourage you at the beginning of the day, and frustrate you at the end.

9. Take Your Breaks Between Tasks (And Not Inside Them)

Taking breaks is essential for your productivity. Just make sure that your breaks are scheduled between your tasks, and not inside them. In other words, finish the task at hand before taking a break. If you take breaks while working on a certain task you’ll lose concentration and prolong the time it will take to complete it. Remember, finish what you start.

10. If You Miss A Task, Send it to Tomorrow’s List

Missing a couple of tasks here and there is normal. You can’t predict with accuracy how long each activity will take to be completed. The important thing is to not forget about those. Instead send the tasks you missed today to the top of tomorrow’s to-do list.




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36 Responses to “10 Tips to Create To-Do Lists Like a Pro!”

  • Paula Woolley

    Ooooo…I love lists. This is really good advice on how to do them well! Good stuff!

  • Melisa

    Thanks very much for the helpful tips, Daniel. I’m one of those who badly need to-do lists. ^^

  • H2P

    The most often I forget to make a task list on my list. For some reason if you make too much often made me forget, forget the real purpose of writing.

  • Debojyoti

    I think computer applications are the way to go these days. I have a software called “MY life Organised”. It generates to-do lists based on a lot of criterion. Its really simple to use and helps me to keep track of things.

    P.S.- Not a sales pitch- just a recommendation from a fellow blogger.

  • John Paul Aguiar

    Great tips.. I use a White board in front my deks.. and on my desktop I use stickies.

    Keeps things in my face all day.

  • Sheila Atwood

    I like to keep my list on brightly colored paper. Then it stands out and reminds me to do the list.

    Sheila

  • Harsh Agrawal

    This is indeed a useful post for everyone. Initially I never realized the importance of to-do list and later on I keep missing work , specially emails which I received before sleeping. Later on to-do list comes very handy for me… Meanwhile I’m using Gmail inbuilt to-do list feature.

  • BlogTech

    Tips that will help to take action regularly.

  • Eric C

    I’m of the GTD school that says they shouldn’t even be called “to do” lists because it puts you in the wrong mindset. I’d call them “Next actions” because they are the enxt action you need to complete on a task.

  • Brent

    I use a program called voo2do.com

    I just started a couple months ago switching from a combination of paper and excel document. It is simple, but effective. You can assign tasks, write notes, put in due dates, and organize different ways. You can also print it off if you like the hard copy.

    Switching to an online form allows me to access anywhere in the world with an Internet connection (and my phone).

    They are still perfecting it, I think, but it is a dandy little option.

  • Oliver

    A very useful post for everyone, especially me. I like to have my to do lists written on a pad in front of me but maybe I could make it stand out more so I can easily see it. The system I use works pretty well but these tips will help me to improve it. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ilija Brajkovic

    I would suggest writing the list in the evening, not in the morning.

  • Harrison

    #11 Actually do your assigned tasks. This is the most important one though it is never on any lists!

  • Adventure Season

    I don’t agree with the 3. from this how to 😀

    I actually believe that the best thing to do, is prepare the to do list a day before. I finish the day with writing the to do list for tomorrow, this way when I start working, I just start with point 1.
    I usually add “fun” tasks to, like reading 10 pages from some books, or have some workout, this way if I get really annoyed working, can make “another” point from my TO DO list, that will cheer me up a bit.
    I personally also like to have a flexible to do list.

    I add at least 5 empty rows at the end, and fill it if needed with some “last minute” tasks.

  • Pinoy Blog Tips

    I make my to-do list on my ipod as i always check my emails on it and i usually create 10 in my lists as for me 10 is doable but it really depends of what kind of task it is. Anyway thanks for sharing your tips Daniel

  • Tom | Build That List

    Do you have any online To-Do List programs that you recommend? I used to use outlook at work, but I don’t have it at home.

  • Blake @ probs blog reviews

    Being super adhd makes have a todo list a requirement to being and staying productive all day.

    I have a tendency to write everything I can think of to do instead of breaking my list down into manageable days. I then just make the most peasing tasks with a star or highlight to make sure I don’t put it off.

    Do you ever have 2 lists, one being a large master list, and a second list that includes only daily task?

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Tom, I use pen and paper, but I might do a post one of these days with online solutions.

    @Blake, for big projects yeah.

  • Pinoy Blog Tips

    @Daniel

    I gotta wait for that Online solutions. I also use pen and paper but typing to my notes on ipod is much easier for me plus i always check it many times a day.

  • Dan

    I find myself writing down everything and my list gets pretty long. I keep plugging away and beleive it or not it does get done. I put pen to paper, then organize my list on the weekend into manageable segments. Then knock out the first one from each list till they are all done. It might be crazy, but it works for me.

  • Lee Ka Hoong

    I don’t have the habit to do To-Do List in a daily basis, I used to drop down some of the important tasks that I need to complete in my cellphone draft box or drop a note in the front page of my cellphone. I would definitely try to do To-Do list now on and see how effective is that, and see how well it can push to work more efficient.

    p/s : Daniel, I’ve sent you a guest post in email last week and yet to get your response. Can I know whether you accept or decline the guest post? Thanks in advance.

    Regards,
    Lee

  • Chester

    Listing a realistic number of tasks. Most of the time I get hyped up and list a bunch of tasks for the day and then I dont get ANYTHING done. If I miss the tasks for the day, I send it to other days. Then my day woukd look swamped again.

    It’s weird that I came to that realization just now. Thanks for waking me up.

  • Jens P. Berget

    I use Things for my Mac and iPhone, combined with the Pomodoro technique. I always carry my iPhone with me, and therefore it’s easy to update my list. When I’m at the office I’ll sync it with my Mac, and then use 25 minutes intervals to work with them.

    – Jens

  • Jack Nguyen

    Great post! I keep all my thoughts and action plan on my whiteboard! It’s a small investment but totally worth it. It helps me with my blogging goals and keeps me accountable when I get lazy :/

  • Web Marketing Tips

    Lately I adopted this practice – “Have A Separate Section To Write Down Ideas and Notes”

    And I think this is really beneficial for me as I can see on which projects I should work on later on.

    I start my to do list at the night, this is good at that time because those works which not completed today shift for tomorrow and I rank them according to importance.

  • freeblogger

    This is what i do. I start the day with my top 10 to do list and i make sure that i fulfil them before the end of the day. At the end of the day, i give myself scores between 1 – 10. If i did not score 10, i make sure that i score 10/10 the nest time i have the thing on my to do list

  • LoneWolf

    I always struggle with To Do lists of any kind. I’m good at putting things on the list — terrible at checking the list to see what needs doing.

    Having something right in front of me all the time (in my face so to speak) would make a lot of sense. I also like the idea of keeping it limited to today’s tasks.

    I’m going to have to set this up — it’s on my To Do list 8=)

  • Gary

    I use a day to a page day planner, it has a to do list section on each days page and because I keep my appointments in Google Calendar, I use that area of the day planner for notes, etc. Works well for me.

  • enda

    Great post on discussing To-do list.
    For me, i don’t make to do list because i always forget “to do” even if i have written them down:(

  • R Kumar

    Organizing activities in a to-do list is always helpful and in order to be more productive in your blogging and internet marketing career.
    A to do list also helps in focussing on what you have to do in a day and prevents deviation from it.

    Tom,
    An online tool that I found very useful is Teux Deux. You can find it at http://teuxdeux.com/

  • George Serradinho

    Nice list. I really laughed at the one about taking breaks during tasks. I guess I am sometimes guilty of that 🙂

    I always have a page or book to write down ideas and notes as I might need them later.

  • mohsin

    A great coincidence, yesterday I friend of mine sent me a SMS demanding a To-Do list pattern and I just got this post in my RSS reader. I have mailed him this. 🙂
    So many thanks for sharing these tips

  • Eric

    I know a lot of people may have a different approach than what I like but I am really more of a fan of ‘Things That Have To Get Done Today’ lists.

    My reason?

    ‘to do’ means doing and possibly getting done. Yes over time what does get done will add up but you’re still just doing on a daily basis.

    ‘to get done’ means to actually get something(s) done that day. This builds up faster and more is accomplished this way.

    Both have their advantages and disadvantages in many eyes I’m sure. I’m just a fan of the ‘to get done’.

  • Helen Calder

    Your article is timely!
    This is the first time I’ve come across instructions for ‘To Do Lists’ that include writing out what NOT to do. Brilliant! I’m going to print out your article and work on it, starting right away…

  • Shamim

    I usually read your blog from Google Reader. But just for leaving a comment i pressed the title and I am here.

    This post really impressed me and yes! from tomorrow morning I will have a to-do list.

    If i can do it………..you should get a “Thanks” from me……

    so…advanced “Thank You”

  • Movie Songs Indian

    You can assign tasks, write notes, put in due dates, and organize different ways. You can also print it off if you like the hard copy.

    Switching to an online form allows me to access anywhere in the world with an Internet connection (and my phone).

    They are still perfecting it, I think, but it is a dandy little option.

Comments are closed.