Boost Your Productivity: Make a Better To Do List

by Miranda Marquit

Many of us are looking ways to be more productive with our time. Whether you want more time to improve yourself through knowledge, make more money, or have more time to just relax, increased productivity frees up time to work on the things you want to work on.

Making a to do list can help you boost your productivity, but you have to be careful. Sometimes the to do list gets out of hand, or becomes too daunting. If that’s the case, you need to change things up a little bit, and create a better to do list. Here’s how:

Prioritize Your Tasks

Boost productivity with a better to do listFirst of all, think about the most important tasks you want to accomplish. You only have so much time in the day, and you need to acknowledge that. Figure out which items are most important, and put those at the top of your list. It also helps to consider putting some of the harder tasks at the top of the list as well.

When you put your most important items first, you ensure that the top priorities get done for the day. This can relieve some of your stress, since you don’t have to worry so much about not getting something vital taken care of. Additionally, if you get the bigger, more important items done first, you will be fresher, and able to attack those tasks with more vigor. Get the hard stuff out of the way first, and the rest of your day will feel much easier.

Say No When You Need To

It’s ok to say no. Don’t add bloat to your to do list if you already have a full plate. You can ask if you can accomplish the task another time, or you can just say flat out that you can’t do it. One of the problems with to do lists is that sometimes we lose control of them, and let others keep adding items. That can result in a feeling of helplessness, as well as a feeling that the day is becoming overwhelming.

Rather than try to squeeze in one more thing, say no when you need to. If you feel bad, offer to help out, or do something else another time.

Skip Unimportant Tasks, or Move Them

The great thing about having a prioritized to do list is that you can leave off the items at the bottom of the list, or move them to another day. Carefully evaluate the less important items on your to do list. Chances are they are items that can wait for another day — or don’t need to be done at all.

Too often, we give ourselves “busy work.” This doesn’t truly accomplish anything useful; all it does is stress you out. Make sure that you aren’t falling into this trap. If items can be dropped from the list, or if it makes sense to do them on another day, when you don’t have as much to do, take that action.

Once you are through your to do list, it’s time to take care of the things that you want to do, whether it’s taking a nap, playing a game with your kids, or working on your side business.

Image credit: bookgrl

Published or updated September 30, 2012.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Trey Smith

Great information Miranda. I have tried many methods and realized that the right way is the way that works. I have recently been able to get much more accomplished with three lists: Today, Tomorrow, Soon. I apply a filter on each of these for Important or Urgent tasks. Just about everything that comes to mind will make it on the Soon list and in the last 15 minutes of my day I will plan the next day and mark off completed items and populate the Today & Tomorrow lists. As things come up during the day I’ll add them to one of the lists where appropriate.



Having a to-do list would ensure that you’ll get to enjoy the important things in life – your family and yourself. It won’t matter, I believe, how many things you get done in a day if you won’t get to appreciate a nice weather once in awhile. Definitely take time to consider what’s important, and prioritize well.


3 Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey

When making my list of to-do things for the day, I prioritize them according to importance or urgency of the task, whether the task is work- or family-related.


4 Karen

I don’t know about you but tasks or things to do seem to be larger and overwhelming when I just think about it. Creating simplifies things for me since it provides direction. However, unlike you, I am used to doing the simpler tasks in the list first. It definitely takes a lot of stress away.


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