Getting Your To-Do List Under Control

Create a master to-do-list and eliminate chaotic, inconsistent lists to get a handle on your tasks.

Most of us have some form of to-do list, whether it is notes we keep on our phone or a list we keep on the computer. Maybe we keep pieces of paper around with different lists on them. To-do lists in and of themselves are not effective scheduling tools. Rather, they are great for capturing ideas as they come up, but they are not effective for actually getting the tasks done. There is no associated time with each of the individual tasks that is on the list, and no connection to your real-life calendar, so your list becomes a nebulous, limbo state for these tasks – ‘Well I need to get to these things, but when?” So we need to utilize our to-do’s and our to-do lists a little more effectively in order to actually get them done.

The first step in managing your to-do’s is to centralize them. What I recommend doing is this: have one master to-do list. If you have multiple pieces of paper around, also some lists on your computer or your phone, maybe you’ve got some post-its or sticky notes with lists or to-do’s on them, try grouping those all into one notebook or one master list on your computer or one place on your phone. If you’ve have them in multiple pieces now, take the time to put them all on one master list. That way you can get a better lay of the land of what is in front of you.  Once you have this central, master to-do list, all of your tasks from here forward can be found in that one spot.

When you do create a master to-do list make sure it is in a format that is easy to take with you wherever you might go. If you know you are the type of person who will never carry a large notebook with you, you might want to look for a small pocket notebook, or maybe get an application for your phone that you can use to capture your to-do’s. Be realistic as to what might work best for you.

I have one client who bought a beautiful, leather-bound three ring binder that she insisted she was going to use as her master to-do list. When I saw it, I picked it up and noticed how heavy it was, I thought “there is no way this is going to work.” And lo and behold, my client said she tried it for a day, it didn’t fit it in her purse or briefcase, so it never went anywhere with her. She went back to writing things on sticky notes. We had to find something that was in a different format that would work for her, and it turned out a small half-sheet spiral bound notebook that the trick. So whatever size makes sense for you, make sure that you choose a to-do list that can travel with you wherever you might be because you want to be able to capture ideas wherever you are as they come up.

Interested in learning more about how you can manage your seemingly endless to-do-list? Learn how at

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