August 5


To-Do or Not To-Do: That is The Question!

By Staff Writer

August 5, 2013

to-do lists

How do you make sure that you get everything done that you want to do?

Well, most of us use some form of a To-Do list to be sure things don’t slip through the cracks – even if it is only during peak times of insanity!

I worked with a woman named Barb many years ago, and she was one of the most meticulous To-Do’ers that I have ever known – and she forgot NOTHING! She had a running list on a notebook on her desk that she would add to through the day, and cross off items as they were complete.

She wouldn’t leave the office until she had transferred all of the items that were not crossed off to a fresh sheet for the next day.

Most of us don’t have that much success with our lists. While LinkedIn found that 63% of professionals used to-do lists, only 11% accomplish all the plan to do in a day.

And there is no indication of whether that 11% is even part of the 63% that takes the time to make them!

There are many formats for your lists, but which one is the most effective?

Well, would be the one that you actually USE! It is a very personal thing, and depends on your lifestyle and preferences.

Paper is certainly one way, but there are also apps and software programs that can help you capture action items, and some of them even give you a reminder when they are due.

To summarize the MindTools To Do Lists video:

  • Organize and prioritize your tasks with to-do lists
  • Track tasks and commitments, avoid stress
  • First jot down everything – the break out bigger tasks into smaller ones
  • Prioritize using A-F for importance – do A’s first, B’s next, etc
  • Review tasks at end of day
  • If you have a LOT of to-do’s,  you may need an action program instead – just “To-Do’s” on steroids

Here are some tips from Jane Dough for using to-do lists:

1. Don’t scatter to-do items all over – keep a master list, and write down things as they occur to you, aka my co-worker Barb.

2. Arrange your items in like-chunks, so that you aren’t jumping all over the place – sending emails, making phone calls, errands in town.

3. Spend some time thinking about longer-term goals and try to be sure that your to-do’s are leading you closer.

4. Give each task a time limit.

One program that we have found to be very helpful is Simpleology – which starts with a morning brainstorm session.  It takes you on to selecting tasks, prioritizing, and deciding what to save for a rainy day.  The goal is to not leave anything that might be important trapped in your brain. Find out more about this program at

Remember, regardless of the format you choose, your list is only as good as your dedication to using it!

About the author

Our staff writers come from various backgrounds in the neuroscience, personal development, brain science and psychology fields. Many started out as with us as contributors!

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