How to create a To Do list that will help you be productive

We’ve all written a to-do list that has served no other purpose than to kill time and/or stress us out because we have too much to do.

Some people actually believe that to-do lists aren’t useful at all and to those people, I say that they must just be doing it wrong.

If you want to know how to create a to-do list that will actually help you throughout the day and act as a reference for the day then read on!

Step 1: Brain Dump

Sometimes you have so much to do that it becomes overwhelming. In this case, it is best to get everything out onto paper so that you can stop stressing about the amount you have to do and actually start doing some of it.

This is called a brain dump.

You can do a totally random brain dump or you can categorise it but what is important is that you get everything in your head out onto the paper so that you can put all your focus and energy into what you have to do.

Step 2: Categorise your to-do list

Depending on how much your juggling this might not be totally relevant but if like me your juggling home, school, work and a blog then this is totally necessary to help you gain balance.

Some people focus on one thing at a time and other balance a certain amount of tasks from each one.

I personally balance a couple of tasks from each because I have the attention span of a fish and cant focus on one thing for more than an hour (more on that later) but I’d suggest you trial each and see which one works for you.

Step 3: Start creating your first to-do list

Now, this is where most people go wrong. They add far too much to their list. They overwhelm themselves and then they don’t do much and then they feel bad.

Which is why I suggest you create more than one list.

I like to have two lists. A priorities and a non-priorities. Must be done, should be done. That kind of thing.

By creating these two distinct lists then you know what is absolutely vital and what you can let go off if other things get in the way. It also helps you have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day as long as you’ve done all the work you absolutely had to do.

Second tip – order your priorities in terms of their importance. If you really really have to do something then put it at the top of the list.

In a similar vein if there’s something you’re dreading doing then do it first. Once it’s done it will be a weight off your mind and will help you focus on the rest of your tasks afterwards.

Step 4: Stick to it

One of my top tips when working from a to-do list is to not multitask.

Although sometimes I’m an advocate of the multitask if you have a strict schedule and a strict list then it won’t work as well. It’s no good having two halves of a task done when you could have completely finished one task in the same amount of time!

This is especially important if you’re the type of person who really thrives off a sense of accomplishment!

I am terrible for multitasking when I shouldn’t and I always try and do too many things at once and my solution for that is to break work up into short bursts.

As I said about categorising work I will maybe work on my blog for half an hour, then do the dishes as a break and then go back to the blog.

That way I not only break up my day and therefore maintain my focus but I do also get other things done.

Step 5: Don’t beat yourself up

The reason for the two lists is so that as long as you know that you’ve done all of your priorities you feel like you have achieved something and have some solid proof that you have had a productive day.

But even if you don’t quite manage to finish your list there is no need to worry as you always have another day.

It is really important to remind yourself that sometimes things outside of our control do influence what we can do in a day and to not beat ourselves up if this happens on occasion.

So what do you think?

Have you tried these tips and tricks? How do you write your to-do list? Let me know in the comment

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Related posts: How to use time management to your advantage


  1. Christina

    I love the idea of having two to do lists. Ever since I started using a “needs to be done” and “would like to get done” list, I’ve been way more productive with my days. I also keep a “to do eventually” list in my bullet journal.

  2. oprolevorter

    You are a very capable person!


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