Doing To-do Lists – the right way

I have never been a fan of lists, honestly.

But off late, ever since I have started freelancing,  I have been finding myself grappling through tasks in my head and ending up forgetting most of it. I start my day with such optimism but end up totally messed up.

And so, last week my innumerable tasks at hand gave way to an unintentional To-do list for the day. As impromptu as that list was, it served me brilliantly for the day.

Here’s my takeaway from TO-DOs and why I am sticking to it for days to come:

  • It cuts the crap

    Repeatedly hyping about all the pending work only makes it worse. Writing it down, on paper or on any device, gives it a tangible form and helps you get a clarity. I won’t deny it seriously cuts down on unnecessary anxiety and pulls you in a To-do mode from an all cry-no hay mode.

  • It prioritizes better than your head

    When you are rambling all the to-do’s in your head, you cannot possibly place their priority in your day. However, when you see yourself writing it, you can mentally gauge the importance and urgency of it to be noted in this particular day’s To-do list.

  • Accomplishment

    Checking out the items off the list gives you such an accomplishing feel. You feel a sense of achievement which consequently motivates you to do better.

  • Makes you ready for the next day

    And just in case, not much was checked off the list, you know your priorities even better the next day.


How to do it right?

I have failed miserably in designing lists in the past – which was precisely the reason why had been not a fan. But here I am again, only that this time I seem to be doing something right.

Here’s what TO-do and NOT To-do while making a To-do list:

  • This is a task list; not a goal list

    Keep off your fitness/success/self-development goals like “Learn French”, “Reach XYZ number of followers” or “Lose 5 kilos” off the list. Instead, make it action oriented and list items like “Register for Yoga” or “Sign up for French classes” or perhaps mention posting three Instagram posts everyday to increase followers?

  • Do it in your bed

    You may have a morning routine but if you kickstart your day with a very quick to-do, you’d plan for the day better ahead. At this hour, your mind is clutter free, sharp and fresh so you know you are not distracted.

    Don’t worry you won’t overwhelm yourself first thing in the morning – if you follow the next advice.

  • Follow the one-minute rule

    Whenever I sit down and make a list with too much of focus and thought, I lose it. So the idea is to jot down quickly whatever things-to-do cross your mind first thing in the morning. Don’t spend more than a minute on it and include everything on it -right from making a birthday call to an official submission.

    I feel this keeps reminding you of things other than work, which are equally important for the day as well as saves you from maintaining three different lists.

You can either choose from innumerable To-do apps or keep it simple and use the ‘Notes’ on your phone. If you’re a diary person, nothing like a pocket journal! 

Keep building – one day at a time. 

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