Organization, Productivity Tips

How to Write a To-Do List

To-Do List. We all know that we need one, or more, but how helpful are they?

I believe that creating and updating a To-Do List regularly is a really important step of improving the chaos in our lives. As moms, we have more things going on than we can possibly keep track of, so we must keep a list.

But just making a massive list of everything we need to do and calling it our To-Do List will only overwhelm us. And it won’t help us get anything done. We need to be strategic about how we write out our lists and it won’t be the same for everyone. It will probably even change as your life changes.

I talked about how to do a brain dump here and I strongly suggest that you start there before you even read the rest of this post. Start by writing out every single thing you think you want to do. Then prioritize and set them on a timeline and move forward with making a usable To-Do List.

Let’s talk about two different formats that you can use for your To-Do Lists. I’ve used both formats, so I’ll tell you the pros and cons I found and explain why I use the format I use every week.

Lady writing her scheduled To-Do List

Scheduled To-Do List

When I started really using a planner a few years ago, I assumed that I would want all of my tasks scheduled for a certain day. I’m extremely Type-A, so this just made sense to me. I didn’t schedule down to the minute, but I did have my schedule blocked out by morning, afternoon, and evening.

Every Sunday, I would sit down and write out my master list of tasks and projects for the week. I would then divvy the tasks out across my week based on my schedule and honestly, how much I was going to enjoy the task. 😉 

I tried to use this method to ensure that I would get things done since I had due dates. And for awhile, that’s exactly how it worked and it was great! I set a due date and got things done, sometimes I was even ahead of schedule!

Then Little Man came along. As many of your know, two babies is a whole new world when compared with one. This was also when I became a stay-at-home-mom. Such a regulated and specific schedule left me feeling guilty when things didn’t happen on the day I said they would be.

That’s when I switched to a less structured format.

Master To-Do List

Master To-Do List

As I mentioned above, I used to start my planning every week by writing out a master list for my week and then divided it up across the week. Now, I just do the first part. I write out a master list each week and just work from that as I go every day.

This gives me the freedom to squeeze things in as I have those random pockets throughout my day. It also relieves the guilt trip of moving a task to another day.

The biggest downside to this format is also its greatest asset, it’s flexibility. Without any due dates, it can be easy to get swept up in my week without getting much done.

To combat this, I built a habit of pulling out my planner every morning before the kids get up. I use this time to make a quick mental note of what I want to accomplish that day. This is how I am also able to use my pockets of time wisely.

What planning format is working for you right now? If you don’t currently have one that’s working for you, which one of these formats will you be trying first?

Katelyn Patton Accountability Coach

12 thoughts on “How to Write a To-Do List

  1. Nice post! I definitely think whichever method you use, pulling out your list first thing in the morning helps set the tone for the day and makes it more likely that you’ll get things done! I also use a combination of both methods.

    1. That’s a great starting point! I suggest finding somewhere where you always write them down, it could be as simple as a plain spiral. That way, you always have something to refer to.

  2. Great idea to keep your daily to-do list very separate from your “master” to-do list! We too often put too many items on our daily lists, which isn’t realistic or manageable – and then we feel awful for not getting through everything! I have an ongoing braindump Google Sheet where I store #allthethings…once I’m ready for a new daily to-do, I’ll go there to choose the next thing 🙂

  3. I am so glad I found this post. I struggle with to-do lists and tackling them. You have just inspired me to up my game. Can’t wait to incorporate some of these tips.

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