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5 ways to make better to-do lists

Team StoryWeavers|July 17, 2023, 17:28 IST|
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How to make effective to-do lists

What’s on your to-do list today? Wait, do you not have one! There are many proponents of the anti-to-do list charter because they find them overwhelming. If by the end of the day, their tasks aren’t done, they get frustrated. Understandable. 

The problem is not the list itself, but the WAY it is created. Putting a to-do list template together is nothing short of art. That rush of dopamine you experience when you check a task off your list is unparalleled. Remember that the best to-do list is a simple to-do list. And we’re here to help you identify the best method to forge an effective to-do list format. 

Ready to feel good as you uncomplicate your life? 

Also Read: 5 tips to boost productivity after you’re back from a vacation

Method 1: Make multiple to-do lists

Make multiple to-do lists, one for each theme

If you add EVERYTHING that you need to do in a day into a single checklist, you’re going to regret it, friend. Imagine having your household chores, along with your workout goals, your friend’s birthday party plans, and yes, your office tasks, in one never-ending confusing list. Wouldn’t it be easier to have separate lists for them all: office, party planning, fitness, home, and so on? 

This will:

  1. Reduce clutter
  2. Help you better organise your life 
Method 2: Do just ONE thing from your list

Do just one thing from your to-do list

Okay, not exactly! Jot down your action items for the day, but use this list merely as a guide. Hide it. Then pick the most important task and write it somewhere you can see it (sticky notes, whiteboard). Remember. One. Task. Only. Once you’ve completed it, go back to the OG list, pick the next job, and re-do the process. You’ll be giving each item on your daily to-do list, your undivided attention, instead of trying to multitask and not accomplishing anything.

This will:

  1. Increase your task-completion rate
  2. Help you focus better
Method 3: Group together similar jobs

If you bunch activities that are alike in nature into one to-do list, you could move from one task to another without it affecting your productivity

Every time you switch between tasks from different projects, you take some time to adjust to the new task. Right? But if you were to bunch activities that are alike in nature, you could move from one task to another without it affecting your productivity. Group together jobs with similar themes, if you will, and use Method 1 to sort through the chaos.

This will:

  1. Improve productivity
  2. Help in better time management

Also Read: Leaving the office behind: Your 10-step out-of-office Checklist

Method 4: The three-list tactic

Make three to-do lists and tackle them basis priority

Not to be confused with Method 1, this strategy involves the making of three to-do lists. The first one is for important but not time-sensitive tasks; they need to be done, just not today. The second one is for jobs that must be completed today itself. The third one is the most interesting. It’s for tasks that you have been putting off for the longest time. Let’s call it the not-to-do list, because you know in your heart that you’re never going to actually do any of these tasks! 

Tackle the second to-do list first, followed by the first one. For the latter, since it’s not imperative to do those tasks today, you can stop agonising over them. Just schedule them basis their priority. This is also a good way to weed out tasks that are not worth your time and effort. 

This will:

  1. Reduce anxiety over future tasks
  2. Help you narrow down your list
Method 5: Action, action action!

Make sure that your to-do list only has action items

Make sure that your to-do list only has action items. If you start adding notes, like random thoughts associated with the project, for example, your list will become too crowded. And a messy to-do list is worse than having none. Sure, your ideas are important, but you can note them down elsewhere.

Also keep in mind that when you write down an item, the action is mentioned loud and clear. For example, if your task says “International Tiger Day”, what does it mean? True, you will know what it implies, but seeing it written down will make that much of a difference and your brain will register it better too. How about writing, “Research International Tiger Day”. Loud and clear!

This will:

  1. Add clarity 
  2. Help you keep your to-do list crisp and clean

Whether you want to maintain a weekly to-do list or a daily one, these tips will come in handy. Get ready to make your to-do list in a diary or jot your to-do list online, maybe even use a to-do list app (Asana, Todoist). 

Use these methods for work and/or personal consumption and let us know if they helped you. Or you could share your strategies with us! Our comments section is always open.

Like what you read? Head to Life at BYJU’S to learn more about our work, people, and the stories that make us unique. To explore job opportunities, check out Careers at BYJU’S.

(This story has been put together by Storyweaver, Neha Dua)

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