“Failing to plan is planning to fail”– Benjamin Franklin
Everyone wants success.
Everyone wants to achieve their goals and live the life that they know would make them happy. That’s just a given.
But it’s not that simple though is it? If not, you’d be a millionaire with a six-pack. So the real question is:
How do you get from where you are to where you want to be?
Whether it’s time management, lack of motivation or not knowing what steps to take next YOU can make progress with a daily to-do list!
And before you read any further, I’ll tell you my number one tip now: keep it simple.
Keep reading on and I’ll tell you exactly how to do this (and not just end up with a To-Do list that stays on your pinboard and left unchecked for months)
Read here: Why you need a weekly To-Do list
Goal setting (Weekly/Monthly To-Do lists)
Using a daily to-do list is a great way to achieve your long term goals and will enable you to set short term goals to realise them. Creating To-Do lists forces you to break down your goals into their smaller, more manageable, parts.
For example, if you’re wanting to write a dissertation and you haven’t started yet then writing down a task for today to think of questions is a good way to start, then tomorrow you can choose your question and write down your thoughts on it, the day after you can start research and just like that you’ve got a good start on an almost gargantuan project.
Use daily to-do lists to break down the larger goals that you have.
Therefore, starting a weekly to-do list (or monthly if you prefer) will help you get more done than having none.
This is because you’re focused! You overestimate what you can do in a day, but underestimate what you can do in a week.
Daily To-Do lists
Then you can begin to create a daily To-Do lists!
And here are the ground rules:
- Keep it short…
- About 3 points will do, any more and you’ll stretch yourself. If you want to write 3 things you need to do and 2 things you’d like to (if you get the time) then this is a good way to fill it out
- Keep it focused
- If you’re wanting to get writing done, then make sure writing is on your to-do list every day. Then each day you will know that you have made progress with your goal. You get back what you put in.
- Write a to-do list everyday!
Make it a habit and be productive every day, then if you manage to get 3 tasks done every day… stretch yourself and aim for 5!
My method for writing To-Do lists
While there is no wrong way to do this, I thought I’d share my way of creating To-Do lists.
- Get a small notebook
This can be a pocket notebook size (3.5” x 5.5”) or even smaller. These size notebooks are great! They fit in pretty much every pocket, tend to have around 70 pages and can be beaten around without worrying about keeping it pretty. You could also just use scrap paper each day, notecards or incorporate it into a larger notebook.
You could also do this digitally, and occasionally I do, but the act of crossing something off a piece of paper is undoubtedly satisfying. It gives meaning and grounds the act to you and ensures that even though it is completed and crossed off, that is was still there. You can see under the strike-through that you have made what task it was that you have done. There is something about going through a written to-do list and crossing off your labours.
Don’t steal this from yourself – use a notebook!
- Write tommorow’s To-Do list tonight.
By doing this, you’ll be able to wake up already knowing what you need to do. By only having 3-5 things on your To-Do list you won’t lie in bed stressed about all the stuff you have to do either. You’ll be able to manage this!
Imagine waking up and starting your day to sit down and look at the desk in front of you, already knowing what you need to get done that day to be productive. You don’t need to spend the first hour trying to get into things and try to work out what you need to do. You can prioritise and eat the frog. I’ll be writing a post about prioritising tasks and how to apply the Eisenhower matrix soon.
- 3. Keep it specific
Write down exactly what you want to accomplish.
This can be results based or input based. So for example it could be write 300 words of an essay, or spend 40 minutes in the gym. It doesn’t matter but figuring out exactly what you need to do will make doing the act a lot easier. It removes confusion about where you should be spending your time and helps you procrastinate less and win your day!
Next steps (some thoughts for going forward)
- You could combine these To-Do lists in a larger notebook with daily gratitude. Create a page everyday and split it (like a massively simplified Bullet Journal to have a great day everyday) up so you can write down your tasks for the day and what you’re greatful for and remind yourself of both throughout the day
- Have a nightly reflection practice. Reflect on what good you’ve done that day (as per Benjamin Franklins habit) and what good you wish to do tomorrow before you create your next To-Do list. This will let you analyse what works and what doesn’t and stop you from repeating mistakes
To-Do lists work for three main reasons. They give us structure, a plan and they are tangible proof of what we’ve done during the day. Anxiety is released, a way forward is paved and the ability to look at what you’ve done to create momentum going forward is unleashed. Use that momentum to create a Snowball Effect for your life!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post! I wrote it because this is exactly what I needed to tell myself at the time, and expressing it in a written format tends to help. And by this point… If you haven’t got a to-do list for the rest of your day, I implore you to write one.