Who doesn’t love a good to-do list? Writing down your goals can be a great way to organise your thoughts and objectives, but how should you approach list building to ensure you actually get stuff done? Here is a simple and effective process that will help to maximise your productivity and set yourself up for success.

To-do lists are a fantastic way of working through important daily tasks. As with all productivity practices, a focused strategy is your best bet to achieving your goals. Listing tasks as a stream of consciousness without proper thought or prioritisation doesn’t guarantee they will be anything more than unfulfilled words on a page beside an empty checkbox at the end of the day.

Here are 5 steps that together form a framework to help you master your to-do list.

The closer you can be to the blank page, the more attention you can give to it and thus the more intentional your list will be.

1. Remove All Barriers

Right, it’s time to start, but where to begin? At the very outset it’s important to stress that there is no one single agreed upon way of crafting a to-do list. Rather, what is more important is the process itself. Set aside some real ‘you’ time to craft your list. By that we mean quality time – no distractions, no TV in the background and no social media (unless it specifically relates to your goals). The closer you can be to the blank page, the more attention you can give to it and thus the more intentional your list will be. Remember, you are building a framework for your success, so the more attention you can give to yourself the better!

2. Use The Right Tool

There are plenty of ways to build a to-do list. For many, an old school bulleted list in a journal or scrap piece of paper does the trick, whilst for others a digital template or app works best. Here are some of our to-do and note taking apps, each with a unique spin and feature list. Use whatever you are most comfortable with and works best for your needs:

If you’d rather save some time and go with a re-useable, pre-formatted to-do template, there are many options available online. Check out our Daily Goal Planner, available at AMR Store and Etsy, which also considers health and wellbeing priorities alongside daily goals and tasks.

Every large-scale object is made up of smaller, supportive parts, and so too are goals.

3. Start Big, Then Think Small

You’ve set aside some time and are now face to face with a blank page. Now what? Well, it is time to have an honest discourse with yourself. What do you think you can realistically achieve? What does your time frame allow for? Start with what you’d broadly like to achieve in the amount of time you can allocate to your objective. One big ‘theme’ that you’d like to work toward. Let’s say this goal is going to take one month to achieve. Perhaps it’s a book you’d like to read. Okay great, that is our big goal.

With your main goal set, it’s time to chunk down. What smaller actions do you need to take to ensure your larger objective is met? Every large-scale object is made up of smaller, supportive parts, and so too are goals. You probably won’t read the entire book in one sitting, but maybe you could afford some time each week to read. Those are your smaller to-do items that will ensure your main goal is met. Take care of the pieces, and the puzzle will solve itself.

4. Work Toward Deadlines

This might seem obvious, but how do you think you’d fare in a race with no finish line? Goals need an end date built in as a fundamental part of the tracking process. A finish line drives motivation and buffs against burnout by providing a clear and reasonable estimate of how long a task should take. Deadlines also help you prioritise your activities in the face of competing tasks and make sense of your agenda. Knowing what is due and when will enable you to build a to-do list that works with your schedule, ensuring your attention is well spent.

5. Reflect On The Regular

It is important to measure and track your progress through regular check-ins with yourself. As part of the process, set aside some time at a regular cadence and review your progress to date. Ask yourself if there is anything you need to adjust, anything blocking progress or areas that could do with more focus. You may even find yourself ahead of schedule and award yourself some free time.

By following this framework you will have a to-do list that is more intentional, focused and achievable – all factors that will help you get the most out of each day.

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