Conquering the To-Do List // List structures, systems, and handy tips

I feel like it’s kinda ironic I’m writing this post while currently trying to do a massive overhaul of the way I write to-dos but here goes anyway.

I’ll be talking about my current structure, general tips, and what I’m trying to move to. Note: this post is mainly about daily to-dos with slight reference to weekly because that’s the structure I use (I do have monthly goals but it’s usually less linked to daily/weekly).


My Current System

Weekly

I plan my weeks out in my bullet journal (for more on this check out my YouTube channel and Plan With Me videos!), the format varies a bit week to week but I set some weekly goals (a lot of them transfer over from previous weeks but they’re also guided by particular deadlines etc). Currently I don’t prioritise these tasks; weekly is just a place for me to write down everything I think I need to get done, and at the end of the week I’ll move any incomplete tasks to the next week (with some evaluation about whether or not certain tasks are necessary and if I can strike them off).

Daily

On a daily basis I write on the day’s tasks on a post-it and this is generally stuck to the front of whatever my current-read is (or if I’m travelling i.e. going to school, at the front of some school work). What’s on the list varies a little and I often experiment with different things but here are some of the ones I’ve tried:

Time blocking

Usually by hour, I’ll assign tasks to an hour (this one is good if I have a bunch of mandatory events e.g. classes, or in more recent times, webinars/online classes). A downside is once you get behind you will end up perpetually behind I assure you… And time blocking doesn’t give you a clear list of what you need to get done.

Classic (write it all out)

The simplest one and what I refer to when I’m lazy. I just write out all the tasks I want to get done in the day, and realistically complete like two… oops. It’s the simplest, and what most people start off with I guess. Pros, it’s simple, cons, it’s generally ineffective.

Priority listing

I do this two ways; writing out my classic to-do list and ranking all the items, or sorting items into categories from simple to hard. I find the latter to be useful because I can do easier tasks when I’m less bothered and try to tackle at least one of the harder tasks each day. It’s good to know which tasks are more important because it’s so easy to get sidetracked by small, fairly insignificant and easy to complete tasks that just require time, so that’s the highlight of this one.

Rule of three

This one’s new and I’m still testing it out but basically it’s where you come up with your big three “must complete” tasks (though you can have more smaller tasks on your list) for each day, as well as each week. I’m planning about writing another post specifically this and the other productivity strategies in Chris Bailey’s book The Productivity Project.

General tips

Weekly

I know I haven’t talked it about it much in this post, but derive your weekly tasks from your monthly tasks/goals (which in turn should be broken down versions of your yearly goals). Have some sort of idea about when in the week you’ll complete tasks, and it’s useful to list events/deadlines.

Daily

You might laugh at this advice considering I just shared with you my mess of systems, but have a system. It’s no use if you don’t know what you’re doing with your to-dos, or if they get lost easily. Which leads into my other big point: write to-dos the night before. You’ll be much more clearheaded than in the morning when so much other stuff is going on and you might be in a rush to get out the door (not anymore, I’m afraid), and it’s great to have the list pre-written and able to be picked up immediately. Your motivation levels and energy will fluctuate during the day, so save easy tasks for when you’re not that motivated. And likewise, do the hard tasks first and when you have the most energy.

Eisenhower matrix

Something you may or may not have heard of: the Eisenhower matrix. It’s good to be aware of where most of. your tasks fit on this chat; the aim is for most tasks to fit in the important/not urgent category; important/urgent is unnecessary stress, and not urgent/not important is what you should be spending the least amount of time on.


I’m gonna finish this off with a quick reminder: you’re never going to get done everything you want to get done, and that’s okay. There are good days and bad days, and it’s about trying for improvement, making sure the important stuff is done. Believe in yourself!

How do you usually plan your days and weeks? Do you use any of the systems I’ve outlined above?

5 thoughts on “Conquering the To-Do List // List structures, systems, and handy tips

  1. Okay I’m hooked on the “rule of three!” I find myself biting off more than I can chew and getting distracted when I’m overwhelmed. The past week has been a lot better, but I’ll definitely give that a try!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah wow you are so, SO organized I admire that so much. I usually only have a real, written down to-do list for my work, but I keep the rest of the things I’d like to do for me personally (like, blogging things etc)… in my mind, actually, ahah. I’ve been thinking about keeping these kind of personal and blogging list in a journal, but I also don’t want to pressure myself with my hobbies, if that makes any sense? Anyway, this is such an interesting post, thank you for sharing!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw Marie you are too sweet?! All I can say is, I try. Okay yes absolutely that makes sense, for my weekly plans I have my first “dump” of tasks (so like everything I can think of that I’d get done in an ideal week) sorted under headers which are like school/uni/reading/watch/etc, and then I pick tasks from all of them for each day. Definitely makes sense not wanting to pressure yourself with hobbies, that takes all the fun out of them, but even just trying to set some time aside for them is really great (I do this too often just to avoid other work haha). And ahh thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.