Three Tips for Creating a Successful To Do List

I have been making To Do lists since I was a kid.  And these are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

1.  List single tasks, not entire projects. 

A task is a single, actionable step whereas a project is a series of tasks toward a goal.  So, for example, let’s say you want to paint your house.  If you write, “Paint house” on your To Do list, you’re setting yourself up for failure.  But if you write down, “Pick up paint chips at hardware store,” you can actually get started!

2. Start each task with a verb. 

Verbs inspire action.  They are also more specific about what you need to do.  So, you don’t just write “dry cleaning” on your list.  Later, when you look at your list, you may not remember that you need to drop it off as opposed to pick it up.  Verbs!

3. Have a longer, ongoing To Do list and a shorter To Do list just for today. 

Each day, I look at my long list and I pick out three things that I know I can get done in that day.  Sometimes they’re the most urgent things.  Sometimes, if I have a particularly busy day, they are three little things that I can get done quickly.  Whatever they are, I write them on a separate piece of paper so I can focus on just those three tasks and cross them off as I do them.  I love crossing them off!  Plus, I can cross them off again from the bigger list!  The idea is to chip away at that ongoing list each day…because each day I am adding new things!


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