A to-do list is a list of tasks or items that you have to accomplish during a specific period of time e.g. a day, a week, or even a portion of the day. These lists often have manageable tasks and help people to be productive and avoid procrastination.
Productivity to-do lists often have two formats; you either have important tasks at the top and less important ones at the bottom or you could also design the list with tasks lined up in a way from easily manageable to more demanding. This makes it easier to set reminders and stay organized.
Ideally, the important items on the list should be on the top whereas the lesser important ones can rest at the bottom. Having a to-do list means having all of your important tasks and deadlines in one place so that they are easier to take care of.
Your to-do lists can range from project management to shopping lists and even personal development goals.
The Difference Between A Good To-Do and A Bad To-Do List?
Just having a to-do list is not enough, it needs to be an effective one that helps you stay organized. This is where the difference between good to-do lists and bad to-do lists comes into play.
Good To-Do List
A good to-do list has the following elements:
- Easily achievable tasks
- Detailed task descriptions
- Proper planning
- Flexibility for any delays
- Having a distinction between objectives and goals
This makes it easy to get tasks done without being overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed can cause you to procrastinate and the whole idea of a to-do list is to make tasks look achievable, not overwhelming.
Bad To-Do List
On the contrary, a bad to-do list has ambiguous tasks with no proper details or deadlines, burdensome wording, and no proper distinction between goals and objectives.
For example, a bad to-do list would have tasks like ‘get your life together’, ‘stop sleeping in’, and ‘come up with three project ideas ASAP’. These titles do not induce hope or will to complete the task. Instead, use titles like ‘make your bed to improve discipline’, ‘try sleeping an hour early tonight’ or ‘write down your thoughts on how you can attempt the project’.
What Is Usually on a To-Do List?
There are many things that can be incorporated into a to-do list. The first thing you need to do is ascertain what your list aims to do. Some to-do lists can be shopping lists, others can be deadlines, etc. You can even store them in different formats, from Google Calendar reminders to spreadsheets and Google Tasks. Sometimes it can even be as simple as a random piece of paper you scribbled on. There are also programs available on the internet that help you design such lists such as the Microsoft To-Do List program.
Most of the time, to-do lists have the following elements:
- Important tasks that need to be done
- Purchases that need to be made
- Various goals for self-improvement purposes etc.
- Timed tasks with deadlines, so you don’t lose track of things
- Keeping track of progress
Hence if you’re looking to make a to-do list, here are some things that might be included in specific types of lists:
What If You Can End Overwhelm And Start Getting Things Done?
Project lists are for project management and keeping deadlines in check. These lists are best made with calendars or deadline markers. You can also compartmentalize the items on the list to make the tasks easier to achieve.
Personal Goal List
This type of list is best created with vague deadlines and focuses on making little improvements if any. Start off with achievable goals that slowly build up as you work your way through the lists.
What People Get Wrong About a To-Do List
Do you really know what you are supposed to do?
How much time did you actually spend on planning your day — was it just 5 minutes while the television set was distracting you?
If so, then this was probably the biggest reason why your day became so stressful.
When you plan your days, you should truly understand the tasks you are about to d and what it takes to accomplish them. This is necessary, especially with important tasks, because you are able to make progress with the tasks that matter the most.
The lack of time spent on planning will also be shown as too many big tasks stuffed into your daily list. If you haven’t broken down the tasks into smaller pieces, it’s probable that you are not going to get them done during the day. This, in turn, makes you beat yourself up for not completing your task list.
Finally, don’t treat creating a task list like some secondary thing that you try to do as quickly as possible. In fact, when you pay more attention to your next day’s task list, the more likely the list is going to be realistic and less stressful for you.