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How to love your to do list

July 25, 2017

I am a list person.  Always have been.  I have a grocery list, a bucket list, a list of things I need to do at work, etc., etc., etc.  But a few years ago, it occurred to me that I was listing myself to death!  All I did was stare at all my lists and feel overwhelmed and as a result, I got nothing done.  My to do lists started to feel like a business plan.  Something you put together with the best intentions then put on a shelf, never to look at it again.

The problem is, I, like all of you, have a ton of things to get done and to me, there is NOTHING better than the feeling of checking something off my to do list (love that feeling of a release of dopamine!).  So I decided to there had to be a way to create a to do list I could actually accomplish.

Here is what I learned.

  1. Find an app.  I don’t know a single person who doesn’t have a smart phone today.  Which means its easier than ever to keep your to do list front-and-center by using an app to help you out.  I absolutely love Wunderlist (PS, I am not being paid to promote the app, I just really like it).  It’s simple to use and set up and you can share tasks too.  It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as you like it and you’ll use it.  (Click HERE for To Do List App Suggestions)
  2. Pick three things.  There is no end to the number of things I need to do or want to get done.  But there are only 24 hours in a day and you gotta sleep.  So don’t set unrealistic expectations by thinking you can get more done than you really can.  My number is three.  I pick the three most important things I need to do and anything more is icing on the cake.
  3. Make a don't do list.  I get it.  This seems counter-intuitive.  But it seriously works!  Here is what is on my list:  Don’t read email between 5:00 and 7:00 pm (this is usually the time I knock out some of my to do list for the day and I don’t want to be distracted so I try not to check email).  Don’t second guess (once I set my to do list for the day, I try not to think about the other things I could have chosen.  I just try to focus on my list of three or I risk getting sidetracked).  The point of the don’t do list is to think about things that consistently derail you and set them aside or compartmentalize them.
  4. Schedule time on your calendar.  If you don’t make time, it won’t get done.  So just like you schedule a meeting or your kids soccer practice, set aside time on your calendar for your to do list.
  5. Look at your list at the beginning and end of each day.  This goes back to suggestion #2.  If you look at your list every morning, you can decide what your priorities are for that day.  For me, looking at—and more importantly—checking things off my list at the end of the day is gratifying.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment and it helps me to start thinking about the next day’s priorities.
  6. Use one list for everything.  We all have a variety of things we need to do for work, home, kids, school, etc. I have found that keeping one to do list for everything is the most efficient way to roll.  It all has to get done so throw it one place, follow tips #1-5 and you’ll be better off for it.

Do you have great suggestions about how to keep a to-do list?  We'd love to hear them!  Share your comments below or post them on our Facebook page ( 

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