Productivity Tips

How to Set Your To-Do List Up for Ultimate Success!

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We talked about why digital organization is important here, how to organize your brain here, and how to automate your business here. Now that you have all of that sorted out, how do you know where to start?!

If you want to accomplish everything you need to in order to continue to keep your business up and growing, you MUST have a To-Do List. Ideally, it’s even organized. Whether you decide to use pen and paper or an app, you really need to have a list to work from every week.

As Mind Tools talks about here, keeping a To-Do List sounds simple, but few people actually create one or use them effectively. Fast Company explains here that just the act of writing out your list makes you far more likely to get things done. By writing them down, you’re solidifying a plan in your brain at what actually needs to be done, instead of thinking about the concept of something needing to be done.

Today, I’m going to walk you through how to set up an effective, prioritized To-Do List and then I will give you a snapshot of how I put my list together every Sunday. Yep, I write out my list EVERY Sunday afternoon or evening.

Options for writing out your To-Do List

Pen and Paper

I use a mix of pen & paper and electronic planning tools. I explain how below. However, the pen and paper piece is by far the most important for me. There are a million and one planners out there these days and it can feel completely overwhelming. If you aren’t currently actively using a planner, I suggest you get one eventually.

Today, start with just writing out your To-Do List. I have included a template for you to get you started. This is nothing fancy! No stress required at all. Just print out the template, grab the closest pen, and start making a list of the tasks you know you needs to accomplish this week. Don’t include any details here, just the main topic.

To-Do List Apps

There are just as many apps out there as there are paper planners. Again, the goal is simplicity. You just need somewhere to keep your list. The advantage of most electronic lists, is that you can set reminder alarms. I’ve selected a few of the more popular ones to highlight for you.

Trello – Also a project management tool, but also easy to use for just lists. This one is best if you prefer the Kanban style of project or list management and prefer a more visual aspect to your lists. Same rules apply. If you tend to visit rabbit holes, you probably shouldn’t start here if you’re already feeling overwhelmed. I use Trello myself and love it!

Asana – This is technically a project management tool, so if you are one who gets overwhelmed by the options or travels down rabbit paths, I wouldn’t suggest this one. However, if you are hoping to branch out down the road, it might be good to take a look and see if this might help you with your long-term goals.

ToDoist – This one is more straightforward list application, but is incredibly versatile!  Make multiple lists and categorize them by project such as home or business. ToDoist looks very similar to Asana.

Wunderlist – This one is very similar to ToDoist. You can collaborate, share, leave comments, and so much more.

All of these are free, available across your devices, and work very similarly. Pick ONE and take 2-3 weeks actively trying it out. Don’t just try it for a few days and decide it won’t work for you. You are building a new habit, and that takes time.

How to Prioritize Your Tasks

After writing out all of your tasks for the week you may feel overwhelmed. It’s really easy to want to do all of these things, but is it actually realistic? Often, it’s not. So, how do you prioritize?

I suggest choosing 3-5 tasks that if you get nothing else done this week, you will have still moved yourself and/or your business forward. I choose 3 but do NOT choose more than 5 or you will feel overwhelmed all over again.

These are individual tasks, not projects. So don’t put “update website” as a priority task. That is a project, regardless of how big or small your website might be. Instead, put “Update About Me Page” or “Update images on X page.” These are completely doable in your week because they are bite-sizes tasks.

If you have a project that you really must get done this week, then put the top 5 most imperative tasks for that project as your priorities for the week. Then, even if you don’t get the project completed because life got in the way, you will still have made huge progress on it.

How to set your To-Do List up for Ultimate Success

How do I plan?

I use a paper planner, Trello, and Google Calendar together and it is highly effective and efficient for me. I use Kayse Pratt’s S.O.S. Planner over at Anchored Women. I love EVERYTHING this gal produces! Here’s how I do it:

 

  1. I pull out my paper planner and open Google Calendar and Trello every Sunday afternoon or evening.

  2. I use a bullet-journal style planner which allows me a lot of freedom in how I set it up each week. I have a designated space for my To-Do List, top 3 priorities, appointments, and daily habits. I then set up my open space to include a tracking list for some of my social media posting habits.

  3. I fill in whatever is carried over from last week (the fewest possible) into the current week’s To-Do List and add new tasks. Most of these tasks are in my “Brain Dump” board in Trello.

  4. I copy over my daily habits list.

  5. I check Google Calendar and pop any appointments into the weekly calendar section of my planner

  6. The last thing I do is color code everything with my highlighters. Purple for this business, pink for personal, and green for a business my husband and I build together.

That’s it! It only takes me about 30 minutes every Sunday to get myself prepared for the week ahead.

A note on how I use Trello

In addition to my “Brain Dump” board, I keep the details of my tasks in cards in Trello. For instance, I have an “Editorial Calendar” board. Inside that board I have cards for different topics I want to write about. On each of those cards, I put any resources, initial thoughts, links, etc for me to refer back to while I’m writing.

In my planner, I just write “Blog Post” on my To-Do List. I know that I can find the details of this blog post in Trello when it’s time to write.

I know this is a long and detailed post. If you have any questions, please drop a comment below and I’ll be sure to give you my best answer!

I hope you found this helpful as you journey towards organizing your success!

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