Make your ‘to-do list’ effective

  • PublishedFebruary 1, 2013

   To-do lists are important as they help us get organized and manage our time properly. This goes a long way in motivating and helping us get things done. Here are a few tips to make an effective to-do list.


You have seven tasks written on today’s to-do list but what are the most important ones? Put those at the top of your list. You’ll be grateful at the end of the day to have done what was most important if you happen not to accomplish everything. Don’t include the mundane things that you probably do everyday like checking email or clearing your desktop.

Be realistic.

Avoid cramming your to-do list with too many items. You may not be able to do them all by the end of day. Important tasks you hadn’t planned on might also crop up during the day and you will need to accommodate them. In addition, expect some tasks to take longer than expected.

Make your plans actionable and specific.

Include at least one action verb in the task you list down. Words like ‘finish’ or ‘complete’ are key in this regard. Avoid words like ‘start’ or ‘find out,’ which do not allude to a specific action. Ensure that your tasks are measurable and goal-oriented. Don’t describe your actions, rather the end result.

Have earlier deadlines for yourself. For instance, if you are working on something needed at 4 p.m., you could give yourself an earlier time like 1 or 2 p.m., which leaves you with time to relax and probably also start on the next task.

Celebrate small wins.

To-do lists are aspirations for your day. Forgive yourself for not accomplishing all the tasks you have listed. We all encounter various challenges during the day including distractions, interruptions, sickness and fatigue, among others, that may keep us from doing all that we had planned. So you if you were only able to do two tasks off your to-do list, appreciate the fact that you were able to do this and move on, creating a better strategy for the coming days. Also acknowledge accomplishments that were not necessarily on your to-do list. Record and celebrate your ‘dones’ and let them motivate you.

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