Creating a to-do list has long been known as an effective tool for getting things done. There are several reasons for this. One is that when you put things into a physical list, you release yourself from the stress of trying to remember all the things you need to do. Another is that when you document the things you need to do, your subconscious mind starts to work through them. And finally, drafting a to-do list creates a system through which you enable yourself to achieve your goals.

So how do you make your to-do list work for you?

  • Take note of your personality type. Do you prefer to work to tight deadlines? Do you do your best work when you have all the details available, or is improvisation your strength? Construct your to-do list accordingly.
  • In how many areas of your life do you have responsibilities to complete? Create sections in your to-do list, so that you compartmentalise your life and then work on one thing at a time.
  • Urgent/important must get done first. We don’t subscribe to the erroneous belief that says do the little things on your to-do list first, so that you can cross them off. Although there is some logic to this, and crossing off items on a to-do list does generate pleasant feelings of accomplishment, always do the most urgent and important tasks first so that you work in an intelligent manner.
  • Know your own personal preferences. Do you prefer to work in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Do you work in long stretches, or do you need a break every 45 minutes? Structure your tasks accordingly.
  • Set time limits. Resolve that no task will remain on your to-do list for x amount of time. This means that you have deadlines, which you actively work toward.
  • Make your to-do list work for you. It is your tool and only you can make it effective. Draw pictures, diagrams, prioritise with numbers, letters or symbols. The principle is if you accomplish one big thing on your list every day, you are moving yourself forward in a deliberate manner.
  • Evaluate and re-evaluate. Remember that the to-do list is only as effective as you are. If it doesn’t work for you, change your approach so that it does!


“Rename your ‘to-do’ list your ‘opportunities’ list. Each day is a treasure chest filled with limitless opportunities; take joy in checking many off your list.”

Steve Maraboli

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