The Best Way to Manage Your To-Do List

Most people alive today have way more to do than time available to do it. This is one of the reasons a well-managed To Do list is so important. Effective To Do list management enables us to:

  • Track outstanding projects & tasks
  • Determine what’s important and what can wait
  • Maintain control over items we need to address
  • Increase the odds of completing projects on time and within budget.

Below are 14 quick and easy tips to help you create and manage your To Do list.

  1. Create a separate To Do list for each project or set of similar projects. The To Do lists can be paper-based, electronic, via an App, or any combination of these that works best.

  2. Include both small and large tasks on your To Do list, as well as any recurring tasks, and the frequency within which they recur.

  3. Split each project into individual and measurable tasks & goals using the SMART system. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For more information on the SMART project management system, click here.

  4. Calendar a firm due date for each project.

  5. Working back from the project due date, create a due date and calendar reminder for each project-related task. Be sure to consider wait times from others involved in the project, as well as the amount of time needed to complete the task, and any other items that require time and resources necessary.

  6. Build in extra time where possible to account for the unexpected.

  7. Design your day, week, and month so that you can work on time- and brain-intensive tasks when at your best. Aim to do this 75-80% of the time.

  8. Understand that emergencies happen, and can impact your deep-thought, brain-intensive project time. If stuff happens, resume brain-intensive work at the next available opportunity.

  9. Schedule project time on your calendar and then honor this appointment with yourself as much as you would honor an appointment with anyone else.

  10. Share project due dates, goals, and tasks with all stakeholders involved in the project. This can be done via email or via calendar appointment, or both.

  11. Create a ‘Waiting For’ section on your To Do list. This section includes items that you need from others to proceed. Calendar a recurring appointment to remind you to reach out to those on whom you are waiting.

  12. If possible, create a deadline, after which no new input can be accepted. Remind all stakeholders of this deadline via regular emails and calendar reminders or appointments.

  13. Check off completed project items and transfer them off the To Do list. This shows progress and may increase motivation to move forward.

  14. And finally, understand that this is not an all or nothing proposition. It’s impossible to account for everything that might happen. The purpose of a To Do list is to minimize disruptions and ensure that you can get back on task at the soonest opportunity.

If you need help managing your to-do list, contact Lisa Mark, C.P.O. to find out if she is a good fit for your organizing or productivity needs.

2 responses to “The Best Way to Manage Your To-Do List”

  1. Thank you for these tips! I needed these today.


    1. My pleasure, as always. I hope you are well!


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