4 Methods For Mastering Your To-Do List


We're all familiar with the good ol' to-do list—maybe there's one sitting next to you on your desk(top). But creating a list the same way day after day can lull you into an unproductive cycle where certain tasks get stuck on the list. To help you get more done, here are four methods for creating more effective to-do lists, gathered from all over.

Image from  135list.com

Image from 135list.com

1) 1-3-5. This method centers around the idea that in one day, we only have time to effectively finish one big thing, three medium things, and five small things. Having to narrow your to-do list down to nine items per day forces you to prioritize, and makes you more deliberate about what gets done, when. (Note: The image above is from a 1-3-5 app I haven't tried, but you can set up the same structure in Notes on your phone or in a daily planner.)
Read more about 1-3-5 lists here.

2) Batching. We may not realize it, but we lose time when we jump between projects or types of tasks on our to-do list. Batching similar items on our list allows us to stay in one mindset at a time, and knock chunks of our to-dos in one satisfying sweep. Write out your entire list, then go through and group items, either by project (breaking down projects into smaller tasks) or by type of task (ex. social media listening across all accounts you're on). Then work through the groups, and feel great about how much you've finished.
Read more on batching here.

Image by  J  ames Clear

Image by James Clear

3) Eisenhower Matrix. Named after President Dwight Eisenhower, this visual prioritization method makes the distinction between tasks that are important and tasks that are urgent (not always the same thing!). Recreate the matrix in Keynote or scribble it in your notebook, and plot items on your to-do list in one of the four quadrants. Deal with them accordingly.
Read more on the Eisenhower Matrix here.

Image by LeanKit

Image by LeanKit

4) Kanban Board. Another one for all the visual learners out there, the Kanban Board is a simple way to see the status of items on your to-do list. This method is inspired by team collaboration software, but you can make your own Kanban Board with a piece of paper or whiteboard and some post-its. Each task is represented by a post-it, which moves from "To-Do" to "Doing" to "Done" as you work through the list. Seeing progress being made along the way will help keep up your momentum.
Read more on the Kanban Board here.

It's all about finding what works best for you, so experiment with some of these methods next time you have a lot on your plate. Whether you stick with one or use a combination of them for different scenarios, the added thought up front will help you get what you need to get done.

Checking this off my to-do list,