7 Easy Ways To Write A Better To-Do List

A BossBird list pad. It has a forest tree design at the top and bottom of the pad. The pad has highlighted lines to write your tasks and to delegate or check them off the list. With a uniball pen resting on the pad.

Do you want to be more productive with your daily tasks? Writing an effective to-do list can make all the difference. How well written is your to-do list? Does it actually help you plan your day and help you prioritise the tasks you need to complete? Or are you left with a long list of tasks that you probably won’t do and you just feel guilty? An effective to-do list should help you, not set you up for failure.

The best to-do list will point you in the right direction every day and help you focus on the tasks that are most important. By achieving the tasks will aid you in achieving your larger goals too.

There are so many benefits of using a to-do list including:

  • Improves your memory – your to-do list will reinforce the information, which makes it less likely that you’re going to forget something
  • It boosts productivity – a to-do list allows you to practise prioritising the most important task
  • Will motivate you – To-do lists are a great motivational tool and as you tick off your list, it increases your confidence in completing suture tasks.

To-do lists are a small practise, but can have a huge impact on your levels of organisation. If yu want to be more organised, lists are the way forward. Being more organised can increase your chances of being successful in achieving your larger goals.

Here are 7 ways you can write a better to-do list:

1. Choose The Right To-Do List Pad

The first step in making a better to-do list is deciding where to keep it. It is really important that you love the list pad or notebook you will use, otherwise you are far less likely to stick with it.

Many studies have shown that writing down your tasks with a pen, on a to-do list pad, actually holds you more accountable when it is your handwriting. The visceral pleasure of crossing things off cannot be underestimated! Bossbird has a beautiful selection of to-do list pads that will motivate you and inspire you to plan for success. I have used Bossbird to-do list pads for a while now and adore the design and quality.

The positive benefits of using a paper to-do list are:

  • It builds memory
  • Gives you screen free time
  • You can buy and use pretty stationery
  • You do not need to worry about a battery life on an app or signal problems accessing the app
  • The confidence and motivation you get when ticking things off


2. Break Large Tasks Into Smaller To-Do Tasks

It can be easy to get overwhelmed when looking at a to-do list with big tasks. Breaking tasks down will help you to see larger tasks as more approachable and much more doable. When tasks are more manageable on your to-do list, it will stop you stressing and also procrastinating instead of achieving.

3. Write Tasks Down As Soon As You Think Of Them

When you think of a task, you need to do, it is important that you write it down right away on your to-do list. Taking it out of your mind and outing it on paper, can stop you dwelling on the task. It also means that you do not need to continuously think about it and you can focus on other things that may be happening. You will also not forget vital tasks as you will have made a note already. This particular practice can be a good habit in your evening routine, clearing your mind before you try and get some sleep.

4. Only Write Tasks On Your To-Do List Not Goals

What you write on your to-do list matters. You need to put tasks on you lists, rather than objectives and goals. You need to make sure you are aware of the difference.

Goals are your future achievements or desired outcomes. These are harder to quantify and putting such tasks on your to-do list would not be very effective as it is likely to stay on there for a while. For example, learn how to speak fluently in Spanish. Objectives are on the way to achieving your goals; these can be more specific and you are able to quantify them. An example could be: to be able to hold a 2 minute conversation about your favourite school subjects in Spanish. Tasks are the actions you take to reach your objective and these can be broken down into smaller actionable tasks. For example, a task could b to learn 5 new words in Spanish, or study Spanish for 45 minutes.

Do not get distracted by your overall goals when you are trying to focus on what you need to do that day. By checking your goals regularly can help you stay motivated to achieve your tasks to reach your goals.

5. Assign Deadlines To Each Task

When you are writing your to-do list, it can be beneficial to mark down the deadline you may have for each task. When you know the time frame you have to complete the tasks, you can then prioritise the tasks, so you do not miss any deadlines. You are also effectively planning out your week, which means you are practising good time management.

The benefits of prioritising your tasks:

Deadlines make it clear what you are expected to achieve and when. You take control of your work with no confusion.

A white desk with a laptop with a diary planner open with a pen. On the left side I had a white mug and on the right side is a pair of glasses

6. Limit Your Daily Tasks

What is your daily task limit? It can vary depending on the type of tasks you have written down and how complex they are to complete.

Starting out by limiting yourself to between 3 – 5 tasks per day, can be a great way to focus on your most important tasks. You may find that it is already a lot for you to achieve in one day. By having a smaller number of tasks on your to-do list, you are more likely to finish them all. When you finish your tasks, the better you will feel about writing more to-do lists. That positivity and confidence can push you to move forward. I know that when I prioritise 3 – 5 tasks, I am often motivated to check off more tasks and actually end up getting more done. But it does mean that if I only get 3 important tasks done, it still means that I have had a successful day. You are not going to feel like you have failed.

7. Add Value To Your Tasks

Next to each of your tasks on your list, note down why each of the tasks is important. Adding a sentence explaining the value of completing a task, or defining why it needs to be done, can help you feel more motivated.

Often, to-do lists are too often just a collection of boring and sometimes even stressful tasks. Each day if you are reminded of the least enjoyable tasks, it can suck your motivation and inspiration out of you. If you reframe your to-do list to be focused around your bigger goals and connect these tasks to your bigger goals, they will feel less tedious and more motivating.

These 7 suggestions are easier ways to write a more effective to-do list, get organised and be the most productive with your time.

Do you use to-do lists? Do they make you more productive? I’d love to hear in the comments.

76 thoughts on “7 Easy Ways To Write A Better To-Do List

  1. Oh I love this! I rarely have an electronic to do list because writing it down works better for me. Now I know why. I’ll also keep on mind to limit my tasks. You are right that i should priotise them

  2. I feel like I make “to-do lists” just for the sake of wanting to cross something off; my daily ones don’t ever really get fully completed and it ends up bugging me lol. I think limiting my daily ones as well as assigning deadlines might make them more achievable!

    1. I love a to do list and live by them.

      Because I clearly overloaded myself with tasks before my breakdown, I now try and add a doable amount of daily tasks and I am realistic about what I have time to do.

  3. I love to-do lists! These are great tips for them. I try and break down my tasks into smaller ones as I find it motivating when I get to check items off of my list. I do use an electronic list so that I can write things down right away, but much prefer a handwritten list on paper.

  4. Man, I do love a to-do-list! They really do make me more productive. I normally write one at the start of each month, and it is super satisfying to tick stuff off 🙂 Thanks for tip No. 6: Limit Your Daily Tasks. I have to admit, I think I’m super women, and can change the world in a day, but limiting it to 3-5 tasks for day is way more helpful. I’m going to try and stick to this. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I love a to do list and they are such saviors during the day! they get you to be so much more productive and really enjoy writing them down on paper instead of a screen. And ticking off everything you do is so satisfying and make me feel accomplished! I need to try and assign times to the tasks too x

  6. I swear by To-do lists, they are definitely a must-have for me. Just writing down my tasks help me to remember them and it helps my time management as well. Helpful blog post, thank you for sharing.

  7. I think having a to-do list is great! They really help me be productive and set me up for the day. I also liked how you mention it’s important to differentiate between goals and tasks. I often find my ‘tasks’ too broad and I never cross them off even weeks and months after – whoops!


  8. Hi! I really love writing to-do lists but sometimes I find it difficult to stay on top of things even when they’re written down. Writing it from highest priority to least has been a great help. Good tips.

  9. I do like a good to-do list but I struggle to use them. I move between Microsoft to-do and a desktop version. I do think I need to look at it again though, excellent post to get me thinking.

  10. Fab tips! I love using to-do lists, I’ve gotten into the habit of recently and I’ve found them super helpful. I love the idea of writing the deadline on there as well as writing down tasks as soon as you think of them – I really need to work on both of those! Thanks for sharing x

  11. To-do lists are a MUST for me. If I don’t have a list to follow, I get sidetracked way too easily and don’t end up accomplishing what I originally set out to do.
    I definitely tend to put too many tasks on my to-do list and then feel bummed when I don’t get them all done. So I can definitely work on limiting my tasks for each day. Also, setting a deadline is a great tip and something I will start adding to my to-do list.
    Very informative. Thanks for sharing!!

  12. I’m starting to learn that I have to limit my daily tasks. Do less, but do more. Every time there’s a context switch, my brain just lags behind a bit more. Great stuff as usual, Lauren. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Great post Lauren! I still like to handwrite my to do list, I’m not sure if that’s ever going to be something I digitlaise. Breaking larger tasks into smaller ones is also a really good idea. Sometimes big tasks can seem too daunting to tackle.

  14. I seldom do a to-do list as I thought that I would remember it all but I’m just human so I am now considering to get a to-do list stationery that I can carry around. I’ve not built the habit of it yet but I’m taking baby steps toward it. 😁

  15. I agree that when you have stationery that it helps to keep you motivated to look at the list and get your tasks done. It also makes you feel better because you like it. When you like it, you will want to use it more.

  16. I write myself a to-do list every day at work because I find they boost my productivity. I find it so satisfying to tick things off. You’re right, the correct stationery can make all of the difference.

    Eve x

  17. I have lots of To Do lists and the ones I find most productive are all paper-based. There’s something very satisfying about physically crossing out things as you achieve them. Trello works as an online record that I can share with my clients but in my personal life it’s paper all the way!

  18. I used to use to-do lists all the time, but then I stopped. Now I feel like I’m just winging it & it would be nice if I went back to making to-do lists.
    Your Boss Bird pad is cute & I agree it’s better to make a list with smaller, manageable tasks.

  19. Really valuable tips for to do lists. I definitely use them cause they help me stay focused in specific small tasks and motivate me. For my daily tasks I use paper written lists cause erasing something off them does give me that sense of completion and satisfaction. Thank you for sharing!

  20. I know you said writing things down is great so you don’t forget that, and you’re so right! When I was in college, I would always write things down on paper over typing up my notes, because I retained the information much better that way! Great post xx

    Melina | http://www.melinaelisa.com

  21. I need this article as I have terrible trouble with to-do lists; I end up rebelling against them. I think the idea of breaking them down into smaller tasks is a great idea. Thanks for sharing; I’ve bookmarked the page.

  22. OMG LAUREN, THIS POST IS A GODSEND! You have no idea how much I needed to read this today. I tend to work in circles rather than be productive, but this has really helped guide how I should plan my day properly 🥰! Thank you for sharing!

  23. I loved this article! This is something I’m working on right now. I’m trying to maximize my time everyday and these tips are definitely going to help me cut down my to do lists to get what I actually need to done. Thank you for sharing!

  24. I LOVE making to-do lists so this title instantly attracted me to this post. I’m a big paper and pen person when it comes to my do list and electronic ones I often forget about. I’m also someone who has to write things down the moment it happens so I’ll remember in the future. One thing to add to your awesome list that works well for me is colour coding my pen colours, it helps me with sorting by priority as well as grouping items into categories to balance my days! Thanks for sharing.

  25. I love this post so much and it’s been really helpful for defining my to-do list. I can’t function without my planner and to do list and something that has helped me is giving jobs to different days. If I write out a long to-to list without days and deadlines, I feel so overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Assigning days has helped me to calmly get things done. Thank you for these great tips, I’ve definitely learnt some new things! En x

  26. I dig the advice for taking down tips as soon as the ideas enter your mind. Life becomes much easier if you write down an idea the moment it pops up in mind because life and its 40,000 plus daily thoughts bully and push idea-thoughts out of the mind, fast. Record and work that to-do list.


  27. I write my to-do lists on spare notebook paper and try not to stress about how untidy they start to look once I add notes on the fly and start crossing out tasks. The crossing out makes me really happy and I love the idea of having a notepad dedicated to my to-do lists as I am always rewriting on scrap paper. 🙂

  28. I use to-do lists and they make me sooo productive! I tend to forget many things so writing down my daily tasks really help me to stay organized 🙂 Thanks for sharing your tips here x

  29. I’ve never really made a to-do list before, but then I didn’t know it’d help reinforce the information, because my memory, especially my short term memory, isn’t as good as I’d like it to be

Leave a Reply