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Off Your Mind and Onto Paper -- How to Make a To Do List

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

When it seems as if there's always something new to do, it's easy to get overwhelmed. And if you keep it all in your head, there's a chance to not only forget something, but to get frustrated with all you have to do. To keep it straight and come up with a plan, you need to make a to do list. You may even need to make multiple. Here's how to get started.


To start, write down everything you need to do. Small projects, big projects, errands, cleaning, whatever you have swimming in your mind. Get it down onto paper so you can breathe. Write down items for work. Write down items for home. Write down items to remind your kids or your significant other. Write down everything.

Break It Down

Take any projects or large tasks and write down the individual steps you would need to complete them. For example: "clean the house" is rather vague. Break it up into rooms, or even parts of each room. This creates smaller, more manageable, tasks that are actionable rather than overwhelming.


Next, evalute what you've written down. If the items fall into several different categories or areas of your life, you may want to separate them. Figure out an organizational system that works for you and create individual lists for each section. For example, separate work from personal, or make lists for errands, cleaning, and organizing.


Evaluate the items on your lists. Are they concrete tasks or hazy ideas? Determine specific, actionable tasks for anything that may be just a general concept. You need a list of things you can do, not just items to think about. If you need to think up concepts for a party or meeting, write down "brainstorm ideas." The more specific you can be, the better. Vague items will get ignored, as you may not know what you have to do. By writing down specific, actionable tasks, you'll know exactly what has to get done.


Which items are pressing? What can wait a while? Make a note next to items that are urgent. Write dates or times next to items that have a deadine. If appropriate, prioritize the rest of the items to determine which are more important than others.

Put Forth a Plan

A list of items to do isn't worth much if they never get done. Look at your schedule and find times to fit in your tasks. Pencil them in to your planner or create a mini list for each day. Make sure you're taking into consideration any deadlines or pressing concerns.

Take Action

Do the items on your list! It feels great to check things off. And you'll know that you're actually making progress, rather than just thinking about all you have to do.



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