How to Make a to Do List: A Quick Guide

How to Make a to Do List

Decision fatigue. It’s a scientific phenomenon that is more pervasive and harmful than you might think.

Decision fatigue creates stress, anxiety, and overwhelm that end in one of two ways – risky (and potentially harmful) decision making, or avoiding the decision altogether.

Nothing beats decision fatigue like making a list. But what is a to do list? Learning the nuts and bolts of a well-done to-do list will help you chart your course for any decision you need to make.

Here’s how to make a to do list that gets results.

Name Essentials and Priorities

Are your priorities in order? You need this answer before you can make a to do list.

Up until roughly 1940, the word priority was always singular. The word denoted the most important thing that required your focus.

While modern language has allowed a little more wiggle room for the word, you should maintain the singular focus implied in the original meaning of the word.

The clearer you can name your essentials, the easier it is to put together an effective to-do list.

Name your goal, make it plain, and cut out any details that don’t lead you in the right direction. Taking this mindset with your list will cut the fat and prevent distractions.

Break Down the List Into Steps

Every to-do list you craft has to have logical, actionable steps. Create a to do list so that it can serve as your plan of action.

Start big picture with the end goal in mind. Figure out which major objectives you need to accomplish to make your goals a reality, and in what order.

Brainstorm the potential steps as they come along so that you don’t forget. You can always go back and refine your list, but you need to hash out as much detail as possible to make sure your to-do list is thorough.

Clearly Explain the Process

The best to do list is one that is clearly stated.

Once you’ve brainstormed each step in your process, run through a couple of revisions and explain them with effectiveness. When making a to do list, begin each point with a verb so that the list is actionable and cuts out any confusion.

Include detailed bullet points that you can carry out piece by piece. The detail that you include will help you layout a workflow that you’ll find useful.

Use Technology When Possible

Technology is your best friend when it’s time to create a to-do list. Today’s apps let you make a list that you can update and revise as needed.

These apps sync across multiple devices and set alerts. This way you know when a list item is due. You can also sync to-do lists with a calendar that includes exact dates and times.

Putting technology to use lets you automate your processes and repeat list items on a daily or weekly basis, or any other frequency that works for you. These apps are an upgrade to the old-fashioned notebook approach.

Cloud storage and backups mean you’ll never have to worry about losing your lists, and can effortlessly make changes.

Set Hard Dates and Deadlines

To-do lists live and die by deadlines. You’ll get results from your list when each part of the workflow has hard dates and deadlines.

This lets you know how much time you have to complete it, and also makes the goal measurable. Performance coaches stress the importance of measurability for making goals a reality.

Any goals that you set should contain a number, an amount of time, an event, or some other meaningful marker of accomplishment. Setting these parameters makes it easier for you to move forward with your objectives.

Focus on Design and Aesthetics

Our brains respond better to certain layouts or designs. Whether you use an app or a notebook, you should have a uniform way of laying out the list.

Consider different color schemes and create a code of symbols that will make the list more eye-catching. Differentiating the elements of the list in this way helps your brain make associations.

Any to-do list app that you use will also let you apply color coding and different fonts as well.

Create Multiple To-Do’s for Your Life

Once you get the basic tenets of the to-do list, it’s important that you use them in different areas of your life.

Break down your most important goals for each day or week. This will typically include a combination of matters in both your personal and professional life. Separate them by different to-do lists so that the points don’t become convoluted.

You can get through your week by having separate to-do lists for your business, the kids’ activities, chores around the house, and other matters. Post these to-do lists in plain sight, or link the family members to a group in the app, and set up alerts.

Getting your entire family on one accord cuts out so much unnecessary stress in your life and helps you run your household like a tight ship.

Revisit and Revise Your Lists

The more you optimize your process, the more it’ll fit like a glove. Consistently revise your lists and create multiple drafts until you get your system to your liking.

Part of list-making is getting through the trial and error stage until you have a set routine for your life. Avoid going through the trouble of creating lists, only to never use them.

Set a time each day to refer back to your lists to make certain your mind is moving in the right direction. Once this habit is ingrained, you’ll stop overburdening your brain and memory, and will instead use your to-do lists as a life roadmap.

Learn How to Make a To Do List

Learning how to make a to do list can help you more than you know. Organization is not just a step to life mastery, it’s a borderline spiritual practice that can bring order to every part of your life.

We’ve got you covered when you want to learn more information that will help you live the life of your dreams.

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