To Do Lists Work

Lately, I’ve benefited from making daily to do lists for myself. They’ve helped me stay organized and focused throughout the day. Without my list I tend to get distracted easily and forget what goals I set for myself. List making has most definitely upped my productivity.

To Do List


Image courtesy of Gualberto 107 /


Here’s what works for me.

1. In the morning, make a list of all the things you would like to get done. You can make this list as detailed {or not} as you like. I’ve noticed that if I really want something to get done, I need to put it on my list. It is much more likely to happen that way.

Here’s my list from this past Friday:

  • clean upstairs bathroom
  • straighten up downstairs
  • finish art wall
  • write blog post – Caramel Brownies
  • fix e-mail sign up on blog
  • review 4-H project with Clara
  • mount picture for fair
  • go through kids and my clothing to make sure we have everything for our trip
  • sign Nicholas up for flag football

With exception of the art wall I got everything done!


2. Start working through the list. Every time I cross something off my list I feel a sense of accomplishment. So, I like to start the day by tackling a small task, something I know I can get done quickly.

This may sound crazy, but I also use the timer for certain tasks to help me stay on track. For example, I’ll set the timer for 20 minutes and clean the kitchen, 10 minutes for the bathroom, etc. I usually use this technique while the kids are practicing or doing school work because I know I will most likely not be interrupted. I’m always amazed at how much can get done in 20 minutes!


3. At the end of the day, I have a list of accomplishments to look at. This always makes me feel like I didn’t waste the day away. Now, when JR asks me how my day went, I can actually remember all the things that got done. {Not that JR makes me justify how I spend my time. Nothing could be further from the truth.}


4. Don’t stress out if you don’t get it all done. There are times when I get to the end of my day and realize I didn’t get everything on my list checked off, and that’s OK. I know that if I hadn’t written the list at all, I probably wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much done as I did.

After all, it’s not about the list. The list is just a tool to help focus the mind and direct action. Life happens, we adjust, and that’s OK!


How about you? Are you a list person? Please share in the comments below!


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2 comments to To Do Lists Work

  • Yes! Lists work great, especially when it seems that there is more to do than there is time in the day. I ususally post a sticky note (or two) in my kitchen in plain view. That way when I do get interrupted I can easily refocus and stay on track.

  • Monica

    I like the sticky note idea. Currently, I’m using a notebook and keep it on the kitchen counter.

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