How to Create an Effective To Do List
Only Write It Down Once
task lists, to do lists, productivity coach, time management
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How to Create an Effective To Do List

How to Create an Effective To Do List

I received a question from one of you this week.  JW writes: I am a true list maker. I make a “to do” list every single day. Only problem is that I use several different types of note pads and don’t throw the list away each day. (some days I’m better than others).  Therefore, I have various lists on kitchen counter, desk in my office, night table. Then I spend a few minutes each day merging the lists, etc. I realize it’s a definite waste of time and was wondering if there are others like me.

Thanks for the great question JW.  You’ve identified a very common problem.  Earlier this week someone posted this on Facebook:

remember it

The reality is no matter how excellent our memories may be, in today’s crazy-busy world, if we don’t write things down we aren’t going to remember.  I’ve seen many many ways of capturing the thoughts and reminders.  I have one client that has even nicknamed her pieces of paper “Shitty Little Notes or SLN’s.”

I’m a big advocate of David Allen’s Weekly Review in which he advises a weekly hour to capture all the SLN’s into one list.  But JW, brings up a really important question – how do we not spend hours re-writing and re-writing.

There are two solutions that I recommend.  This is based on dividing the “to-do’s” by priorities. (Critical, Hot, Sooner, Later or A, B, C, D or whatever you like).  One uses post-its and the other uses a white board.  The principle is that we spend most of our time on our top priorities, so those lists change much more frequently than the others.  I don’t like having to re-write by Sooners and Laters and with these two methods I only rewrite what needs to be rewritten.

to do list ideas

JW also wants to keep it pretty – so think about the Martha Stewart line of white boards at Staples, or pretty post it’s on pretty paper!

1 Comment
  • Ellen Delap
    Posted at 22:46h, 05 November Reply

    I love David Allen’s weekly review too! It pulls everything together from your lists and adds them to your calendar. I find the most important part of this is the time you do your weekly review.

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