Daily to do lists don’t work for everyone, but many people find them useful. I’ve found as I’ve got older (well, it started since having a baby 11 years ago), I’ve needed to write down tasks to have a hope in remembering them. Sometimes just an alarm will do (for remembering I’ve got something in the oven), otherwise calendar or phone reminders for longer term, and a written list for things I’m doing that day.
How do you write successful daily to do lists, and what are some things you should be adding to them?
How to write a successful daily to do list
1. Don’t write too many things down
There’s only so much time in the day and having too long a list puts people off, making it unachievable. Some people write everything they need to do, but for most, it’s those things over and above the habitual routine items.
2. Tick off what you’ve done
There’s nothing more satisfying than ticking off items. Feel free to write and tick off items you’ve already done. But don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t get done (if it can move to another day).
3. Refer to it often
There’s no point having a list if you leave it at home. If you need it through the day, use something like your phone to keep it with you.
4. Put timings beside tasks
If you know you have to do something by a certain time or day, make sure you’ve noted that.
5. Block time in for urgent tasks
If things can’t wait, you need to make the time for them.
6. Keep daily tasks to a daily list
For tasks that will take longer they should be broken down into smaller tasks. Move the overall task to a longer term plan.
7. Choose the method of to do list that works for you
Some like a list. Others get overwhelmed – so having an ongoing list, but only choosing one item to focus on at a time works better. Others prefer just blocking out a calendar with tasks.
8. Take accountability
If you want to make things happen share them. Lots of people share theirs on social media – they can help others remember what they need to do, and also remove pressure seeing others not achieving all of theirs each day.
9. Write them fast
It’s meant to be quick and easy to scan, so you want short bullets or even one word. Not an essay to wade through.
10. Add or remove during the day as needed
And start a new one daily. You want to remove the burden if you didn’t tick everything off the day before.
What to add to a daily to do list
- Work items – generally it works better to keep work things separate from home and personal to do lists. But I do often add personal things to my work calendar so I can remember those too
- Medical appointments or prescription needs
- Shopping lists – food, or reminders for items you need to pick up
- Family events or appointments, school reminders
- Cleaning chores
- Finance reminders – do you need to pay something or do you have something coming in, pocket money day
- Items you need to post – online sales, letters, birthday cards or presents
- Birthday reminders – online can be on the day, for sending physical gifts add to your list in advance so you remember to buy and post.
- Gardening chores
- Transport reminders – filling up with fuel, or public transport timetables
- Exercise – block in time and what you’re doing that day
- Food – especially if you get engrossed in what you’re doing and forget to eat. You can add getting food out of the freezer to defrost, food prep needed, sorting leftovers out.
- Rubbish/recycling day reminders
- Self care time and task
What type of things do you add to your daily to do lists?