Sometimes I have so many things going on in my mind that I just have to brain dump them. You can’t do them all at once, and not having a starting point might mean you’ll never start tackling your to do list at all! This printable will help give you direction and make your to do list less overwhelming.
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How to Use a To Do List to Be More Productive
Utilize a Planner
I use this method myself pretty much every Sunday (my day to plan for the week ahead). I highly suggest using a planner (I wrote about mine here) or at least a weekly planning pad (such as the ones here and here). This will allow you to spread out your tasks so you don’t have them looming over you all on one day.
My planner has 3 sections for each day, which I categorize into School, Blogging, and Other. The sidebar area I also utilize for to-do lists (I have a specific portion of this printable I write into this section – we’ll get to that in a minute!)
This format allows me to stay super organized and never forget any tasks I wanted to do, as well as feeling balanced about my workload for each week. Balancing the 3rd year of dental school, a puppy, home life, a relationship, social/family life – and now a blog – would be crazy if I didn’t plan out my time well!
Section Your To Do List to Make it Do-able
The key to making your to-do list actually conquerable is to break it up into chunks so it doesn’t feel like you have to do everything all at once and are going to explode. If you write down a giant to do list, most likely you will just look at it and feel overwhelmed and not do any of it at all! I use this planning method to trick myself into thinking that my to do list is way shorter than it actually is by allocating certain tasks to certain days.
Prioritize Your To Do List & Do the Most Important Tasks First
Okay, this seems like a no brainer, right? But what do you do with the rest of your to-do list? That’s where my free printable comes in! This will help you organize your list into categories.
This printable is located in my free library of downloads! It’s password protected just for my subscribers, so sign up below and you will be e-mailed the passwords! There are tons of other freebies in this library too, some that aren’t even featured in blog posts and exclusive just for subscribers!
How to Use This Free Printable To Do List
The idea behind this printable is to first, brain dump all of the things you want accomplish into the Task List column on the left. This will give you a starting point to divide this list up into categories. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be pretty, as you’ll be writing it into your planner also!
After you write in your task list, we can start moving these tasks over to the category boxes on the right side. Write in your items that you want to do now in the “to-do first” box!
And so on and so forth… Just go down the right side of the printable in order, assigning your tasks from the task list into each of these boxes! After I write in my to-dos for a certain date and my to-dos that need to be accomplished that week, I always have some tasks left over that don’t really have a time schedule on them but are things I would like to accomplish. Write these into the “when I get to it…” box!
Now it’s time to copy these tasks down into your planner!
How I Write These 4 Categories of To Do’s into My Planner:
- I write in the “to do first” items onto the first empty day (or will even write them in on the current week for Sunday!)
- Next, I write in the “to do on a certain date” items on the corresponding date they need to be completed (some of these might not be for the week ahead, so you can always write them on the monthly calendar or on a sticky note and put it on the future date in your planner)
- Then, I write in the “to do this week” items on the next empty date in my planner. Try to divide them up into conquerable batches. For example, if you have 9 items in this category, spread them over 3 days, with 3 on each day. Be realistic about the time it takes to complete each task and if you will want to do all of those items in that day (ex: maybe when you come home from work you don’t want to do 3 chores, so just assign 1 chore per day)
- All of the left-over to dos are those that don’t have a time requirement and can often end up getting constantly overlooked or pushed back to the end of the to do list. To avoid this, we can write these in our planner using 2 different method:
- write them into an area of your planner that is meant for a to-do list, or just a blank area off to the side (every planner is organized differently, so you can see in the photo above I have an area to the left side labelled Notes, and another column below that which is blank. This is the area I like to write these extra to dos) -OR-
- if you know you are a procrastinator, hold yourself accountable and assign a date for these items to be accomplished by: write them in the next blank day in your planner and spread them out evenly as we did in step 3!
For my visual learners out there, here are all of the instructions on how to use this to do list printable and productivity method in the graphic below:
After you have used this method a few times, you can probably skip writing down your task list and just put it straight into the boxes on the right – which will save you even more time!
I hope this printable helps you conquer your to do list, become more productive, and be able to do everything you want to do!
What is your biggest struggle with getting stuff done?