to do list

How To Actually Use A To-Do List Correctly

The to-do list is such a common phrase when we talk about time management and productivity. It seems we all have one. You know, that list we make every day or every week of all the things we think are important to get done in our lives and in our work.

Forbes has a great in-depth article, How To Write a To-Do List You’ll Actually Stick To. It has great tips for making a to-do list that actually helps you be more productive.

Do you know what a to-do list actually is and how it is really supposed to be utilized? I bet you don’t! Let’s look at that all popular to-do list and learn what I think may surprise you when you see how it should be used.

What is the To-Do List?

A to-do list is exactly what it says, a list of things or tasks you need “to do”.

Some people make a list every day, and some make one weekly. It may be a monthly list. It doesn’t matter how often you make one or even how many things are on that list.

Your list may be for chores you need to do around your house, or in the office, or even a list of chores for the kids. You may even have a “honey-do” list. (Every married woman has one I think!)

But when it comes to business, the to-do list isn’t just a list of everything you need to be done. No, it is something totally different.

Reasons We Keep A To-Do List

Although there are many reasons to keep a to-do list, the most common reasons are:

  • Organizing with a list makes everything feel manageable
  • Tends to give us a sense of feeling focused
  • the act of crossing off tasks brings about a sense of accomplishment
  • brings the ability to “brainstorm” – get things on paper and out of your head
  • Solves the fear of forgetting something

How a To-Do List Can Be Helpful

According to Braingle, the average person’s short-term memory can only hold 7 pieces of information and for about 30 seconds.

I don’t know about you but I’ve never had only 7 things to try and remember. So having a to-do list allows you to track more information successfully.

Having that list regardless of how many items are on it is like having everything in one place. You can reference it as often as possible.

What A To-Do List Should Be

Very plainly and simply put, the to-do list should be a master list. It should be a reference for you to go through when you are planning your schedule. It can include as many items or tasks you want to list. Amazon has an amazing planner for making a to-do-list with priorities!

You can have many types of to-do lists depending on your lifestyle and the activities you pursue. But there are two main types – a personal or general list and a master list which is meant more for business. Next, we will talk about that master list for your business.

Using Your Master To-Do List in Your Business

Now that you understand what a to-do list is, let’s learn how to use it correctly when it comes to your business. The following steps should walk you through how to use your list to help you with achieving your goals.

Did you know that a to-do list you make for your business is completely different and used differently than the everyday to-do list we are all used to making? Learn how to use it correctly in your business and achieve those goals!

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Step 1: Decide Your Priorities

When planning your day or week, start with your to-do list and your goals for the week, month, or quarter. (You do have your goals written down right?)

Using the one goal you are currently working towards achieving, look and see which tasks, when completed, will get you closer to accomplishing your goal.

Mark off those tasks in an order of most important to least important.

How many tasks did you mark as a priority? Can you narrow them down more?

If you’re having a difficult time narrowing down your priorities keep this in mind. Your to-do list is “everything” you “WANT” to do. You are looking for the items you “NEED” to do in order to reach your goal.

When choosing a task, ask yourself, “Is this task going to help me get closer to my goal?” If it is, keep it, if not, scratch it off your list.

Did you know that a to-do list you make for your business is completely different and used differently than the everyday to-do list we are all used to making? Learn how to use it correctly in your business and achieve those goals!

Step 2: Schedule Your Prioritized Tasks

Now that you know what items are most important it is time to get them into your planner and schedule them for the week or even the day.

I recently found a 6 pack of planners affordably that I can track all my goals and tasks for an entire year. Every business owner and blogger should own these!

To do this, take each task in order of priority, from highest to lowest, and place each one in your planner making sure you allow enough time for each task to be completed to the best of your ability.

This does two things. First, it takes tasks off the to-do list. Second, it helps you accomplish your goals in a timely manner and with focus.

Planner on a table with flowers

The Difference between a To-Do List and a Master List

Remember that a to-do list is EVERYTHING you would like to do, but the Master List (when your list is for business) is a list of tasks to reach your goals only. They are the items that are important and necessary in meeting your goals.

When making your master list, only list items that pertain to the goals you set for business. This is not the list to be adding “mop the floor” or “clean the stove”.

Conclusion…

Know you know the difference between the regular to-do list and a Master list for your business. Use your master to-do list to help guide you on the activities you need to do in order to accomplish your goals.

When you schedule them on a scale of most important to least important in your planner you have a set plan in place and you will be reaching your goals in no time.


Sign up below for my free “Being More Productive Tips Report” and start receiving monthly tips and tricks to help you increase your productivity too!

Being More Productive Tips Report