How to Set Up Your To-Do List for Success

How often do you run out of room on a page to write your to-do list? Keeping track of our daily tasks and pop-up projects can take a lot of mental energy, especially when we’re worried about forgetting something. We have a few suggestions that will make your to-do list manageable and boost your productivity in the coming year. Give them a try!

Break Up Big Projects into Small Tasks

Including a big project in your to-do list is a surefire way to feel your motivation drop. This is because a big project that takes several weeks is often made up of many smaller tasks, and even if you are getting things done, you don’t get the rush of knocking them off your to-do list. Think of the list like a short term memory bank of things that you can get done in a single day. If a project has a longer timeline, look into project management software that can help you track what steps you are on, and keep your momentum up by celebrating whenever you complete a smaller task within the project by crossing it off your to-do list. 

Try New Tricks To Focus 

A to-do list doesn’t have to be written out on a boring piece of notebook paper. You can use all kinds of tricks to keep your attention on the tasks at hand. Here are some ideas on how to change up the format of your to-do list for maximum productivity. 

  • Use sticky notes to assemble your to-do list on a bulletin board nearby, bringing only one post-it note task over to your desk to focus on at a time.
  • Try writing out the to-do list in large format, using markers and a poster board
  • Set times for your tasks and try to “beat the clock” each time you start on a to-do list item.
  • Instead of crossing out an item on your list, use white-out to remove it visually from the page. As you complete more items, the more clear your page will become. 

You can be as creative with the format of your to-do list as you want. Changing it up often will keep you engaged and energized! 

Plan For Breaks

Our minds are usually pretty terrible at working at full capacity for 100% of the time. When building your to-do list, work some items in that will give your brain a break! Feel free to include, “5 minute walk” or, “have a snack” in your list of tasks to accomplish for the day. Our favorite is to start a to-do list with the task, “Start a to-do list.” That way, we’ve already got one task out of the way! 

Share With Others

When your to-do list feels truly overwhelming, don’t be afraid to say so! Though it may feel like complaining at first, there’s nothing wrong with expressing how an endless to-do list causes you stress. There may be something a coworker can assist with, or it will prevent others from putting more on your plate than you can handle. If your to-do list is chronically taxing for a long period of time, talk to a manager about the possibility of hiring an intern to assist you part-time, or even another person for your department. Even if it’s not feasible immediately, it will alert them that it may be wise to grow the department soon.