How To Actually Get Things Done: 7 Simple Ways to Create a Better To-Do List

Simple Ways to Create a Better To-Do List

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When I was a child, especially during the holidays, the household ringtone would be:

…”When I get home, I’m expecting a working timetable!!”…

…”Where is that timetable, we talked about? You need to get serious!”…

…”Timetables help plan your day”…

The conversation would frustrate the living daylights out of me because hey! My school life is programmed, and you want to program my home life too!! I’m sure some of you are either the children in my story or the parents of the story.

So, I would write one but never really use it. 

Granted, I see now that I was the one suffering because I couldn’t exactly properly manage my time. I just didn’t understand. You can easily guess that the ringtone sang for most of my childhood. Saying I got it when I was older, would be a serious reach but then one horrific thing happened. 

I grew up. 

It hit me pretty hard. I had so much to do, and I couldn’t figure out where to start. I had basically groomed myself to be the queen of procrastination. That had to stop though because I wasn’t a child anymore. 

I realized that the timetable I oh-so loathed was basically a to-do list and now I actually needed to use one. I actually needed to get things done.

Maybe you’re like me and are trying to start figuring out how to drive your day and make sense of your goals. 

A to-do list can easily help with this. 

It saves you time, energy, keeps you on track, and ensures that you’re achieving your goals. The first step is easy, make a to-do list that you’re going to make a to-do list, and let’s start this journey together.

1. Get Started: RIP the Band-Aid Off!!

The main problem is actually the beginning.

To-do lists are personal. They are supposed to be what best works for you. Whether you want a physical to-do list or a digital one on your devices, the choice is all yours. 

What matters is that you actually need to get started.

2. Make Multiple Lists

Why have one when you can have 5!!

Most people who excel with to-do lists have multiple of them: Weekly, Daily, Work, Personal, Future lists. 

The choice is yours. Having multiple lists keeps you focused when you are in one particular area of your life. When at work, you can focus on work and not be distracted by your other to-do lists.

The best thing about this is that you can create lists at any time you need to.

You need to go grocery shopping? Make a shopping to-do list. 

3. Adding New Items and Setting a Time Frame

As soon as you think of something you need to do, write it down on your list immediately. 

It helps you actualize the task. To-do lists are an actual mental game. It sets it in your brain that you need to do it. 

When you write something down, make sure you write the time frame it needs to get done in. Time frames help with prioritization and time management.

4. Keep It Very Simple

There is no point in stressing yourself out with 20 tasks you need to do in a day. Don’t forget that you’re still human. You only have 24 hours in a day. 

In fact, you should use the 1-3-5 rule: 

  • 1- highly priority task
  • 3- medium priority tasks
  • 5- low priority tasks (easily do-able)

Even then, you may not get all of them done. Maybe you get the first 5 but that is still okay. As we said earlier, to-do lists are meant to work for you and not vice-versa. Make sure you’re flexible because you can easily adjust your lists.

5. Break It Down and Be Specific

If I look at my to-do list and the first thing I saw was “write the term paper”, I would instantly be mortified. I know you would too! Breaking down a list releases that pressure. 

Try not to be vague and instead of “write the term paper”, try “research more on the topic” or even “start the introduction chapters”. Is that not an instant breath of fresh air?

6. Set Out a Time to Make Your Lists

Pick out a specific time of the day, every day when you actually get to sit down and make your lists. It is important to time block that part of your day. 

As you make your new list, give yourself a pat on the back for all those other tasks you managed to accomplish within the week or the previous day.

7. Make Your Lists Public

When you are done with your list, take that next step and set it up where it can be easily seen. Be it on your fridge or even doors. Publicizing it makes you more accountable.

Most Importantly: Be Gentle With Your Mind and Body

There is no point in making to-do lists just to chastise and beat yourself down when you fail to get one thing done.

To-do lists are not all about work, don’t forget to schedule time in for relaxation

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