How to Create the Perfect To Do List

The To Do List Backlash

At a recent productivity workshop, I was telling everyone that the root of any good productivity system comes down to the simple To Do List. Based on the reaction from the audience, I almost felt like I had to run for cover.

To Do Lists don’t work for me!”

“I’ve tried them in the past but I give up.”

“They take too long to maintain.”

“I’m rather just focus on getting the work done.”

But I held strong, and invited the participants to reconsider.

In Search of a Reliable System

We deal with countless tasks. It can be hard – even impossible – to keep them all straight. So we tend to do all sorts of things to remind ourselves of our tasks:

  • We pile
  • We keep emails in our inbox
  • We use sticky notes
  • We run through things in our head over and over again
  • We make lists, and more lists
  • We stack piles on top of piles

Are you nodding your head yet?


All of these things add up to a chaotic environment:

  • Important things get buried under stacks of paper.
  • We forget things.
  • Deadlines pass.
  • Work piles up.
  • We end up jumping from one urgent task to the next.

Are you nodding your head again?

The To Do List Saves the Day

A To Do list is almost magical in its ability to corral the chaos.  It reminds us of key deadlines, lets us feel confident to put things away and allows us to stay focused on our current task – without worrying that we are forgetting something.

Which System Should You Use?

There are many different options. Generally, I prefer electronic lists that you print out and keep handy.  (Hand-written lists have to be re-written which is redundant).

Click the icon to download your PDF To Do List Template

3 Things

Regardless of what your To Do list looks like, it should do three things:

1) Capture 100% of your tasks and their deadline

2) Keep all of your tasks in one central location

3) Categorize by type of work (e.g., Clients; Team; Admin.)

The most important thing is to choose one system that works for you.

Get rid of your sticky notes, your piles and your inbox.

Stay Tuned

In my next blog I’ll talk about prioritizing within categories.

Download free productivity templates.

By | 2017-07-08T15:50:03+00:00 May 4th, 2010|Information Management|0 Comments

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