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Do You Have a Productive To-Do List?

Updated on September 13, 2016

Not Getting Enough Done

There have been many days I felt like I was not getting anything accomplished. I would sit around the house on my days off and watch TV, feeling like I should be doing something but not really having a game plan for the day. This is one reason I started making a productivity list.

I found if I started my day by writing down a list of things I wanted to accomplish for the day, even if I didn't refer to the list later, I still completed most of the tasks. There is something about having these waypoints throughout the day. I can find the time and energy to be productive when there is a plan.

Organize Your Day Before You Get Started

When I get up in the morning I will get dressed and eat breakfast. I use my breakfast time as preparation for the rest of the day. I sit down with my notepad and write down at least 3 to 5 things I want to get accomplished that day.

Making this list is important enough to make it part of a daily morning ritual or habit. I try to make sure I do it when I do something I do every day. Eating breakfast is something I do every day so it made sense to build this list at that moment in time.

I use a disposable writing pad mostly because if I spill something on it like my coffee or milk for my cereal or even if I get a little bacon grease on it it's not really going to matter. Just writing a list is enough to get me going and set my mind to focus on the important tasks of the day.

Save Time by Spending Time Making a List

I have heard some people get defensive about not writing a list. They say writing a list when you start the day wastes time. They would rather jump right into what it is they're supposed to do. This might work for some people but I find if I jump right into what I want to get done I will many times forget some of the other things that I should be doing. Writing them down helps me remember.

If I spend the time making a list at the beginning of the day especially when I'm sitting down to breakfast and have a free hand to write, that time will be put to good use. It also means that the organization of my day will also save time in the long run.

What Items on Your List Have No Value

One of the benefits of writing down the things you want to do throughout the day is finding the tasks that really have no value. I realized that watching TV or Checking email and my social media outlets were kind of a waste of time. Because I was doing these things, I did not get the writing done I wanted to.

The reason I started writing these lists was mostly to find more time to write. I found myself with a few minutes here and a few minutes there between my full-time job and picking up kids from school and extracurricular activities. These are the moments where I would write. These were the moments I can be productive.

Reevaluate Your List at Lunchtime

Things change as you live your daily life. Just because you planned out what you wanted to achieve that day does not mean things will go as planned. The fact that other people live in your world is a testament to other people making their own plans for their own lives but still affect you.

Maybe there was a car accident on the highway that made you 30 minutes late for work. This changes the amount of time you have to accomplish certain goals. Maybe one of the tasks that you wanted to do with someone else fell apart because that other person was not able to make it to work that day. Maybe a new project appeared that was more important than what you plan to do for that day, a project that took priority over everything else. This usually means you have to bump your goals back a bit.

They don't have to be negative affects either. Maybe you accomplished most of your list for the day early. Maybe you were more productive than you thought you were going to be. Maybe you have the ability to do other parts of your project or create completely new ideas to make your day even more successful than you thought it was going to be.

Lunch is a great time to reassess all these things. You can sit down and look at your list. You can cross things off that you've completed and add new items that you want to achieve for the rest of the day. Sometimes he won't make any changes to your list. Many times I think you might.

Add Deadlines to Your List

After you get used to making a list every day, you might find that you are still not getting everything done. One thing that will help you achieve those daily goals is to put a deadline on each item. If you know you have to get something done by a specific time, you are more likely to accomplish that goal.

The nice thing about making this list in the morning is you already have an idea what the timeframe of your day is going to be like. You can adjust to move time around based on the goals you want to accomplish for the day. As you come around to lunchtime, you can adjust those deadlines while still trying to complete everything on your list. As the date gets closer to being over the crunch time for completion Shrinks and you may find that some of your best work comes in those short sprints to the finish line.

Review What You've Accomplished

When you are laying in bed at the end of your day, you should be thinking about what you did that day. You should be thinking about what you've accomplished. You should be comparing it to your list. What did you accomplish. What did you not get to that was on your list. These things are a great way to puSh yourself to strive for more the following day.

You should always be excited about what you accomplished. Most likely the things you completed will be more than what she would have done if you had not had a list. Feel free to get started on your list for the next day. Make sure you look it over when you get up in the morning and make changes as you feel the need to be made once you are awake and ready to start. Continue to build on this list and get more and more done every day you attempt to make your list of productivity.


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    • Cee-Jay Aurinko profile image

      Cee-Jay Aurinko 15 months ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Hi Robert. I just read your hub and I have to say that you bring up some valid points concerning the importance of list making. I myself don't make lists, but that's just because I'm mathematically wired. I work better by keeping track of which and how much hours I put in reaching my goals for the day. I get pretty cranky when people interfere though, lol. But what can I say? Progress is addictive.