To-do lists are an extremely useful tool when it comes to getting your life in order and setting your priorities. For a visual person like me, to-do lists are perfect because I get a great sense of satisfaction from ticking things off and completing all of my tasks for the day. However, if you're not careful you can overload yourself and before long your motivational tool can turn into a visualisation of your daily failure to complete things. So, today I'm going to show you a few things I've learnt about my beloved lists to keep you on track...

Limit how many tasks you set:
In recent months I've developed the habit of writing never-ending to-do lists, and that's exactly what they are - never ending. By getting caught in this trap, you end up never being able to finish all the tasks that you've set yourself, and therefore turning your reward system for getting things achieved into a list of sorrow and misery. I am terrible at writing ridiculously long to-do lists, so I've just bought a little note pad that only allows 12 tasks to be set, which is much more reasonable. Of course the length of the list can vary day to day (you can usually get more done on the weekend than on a busy weekday), but I try to keep the number of tasks to 12 and below. 

Write your to-do list the night before:
I don't know about you, but as a night owl I am most productive and bustling with ideas and motivation in the early hours of the morning. Personally, this is the best time to write a list of things that need to get done so that my morning-induced laziness doesn't limit my productivity. Of course it's different for everyone, but I find that setting my tasks the night before ensures that I wake up with a purpose and am ready to be productive from the get-go, rather than wasting time in the morning trying to decide what to do with the day.

Be realistic:
Let's face it, Rome wasn't built in a day, so your entire life shouldn't be either. Setting yourself a list of both easily achievable and more time-consuming (but manageable) tasks will help you get through your list and feel happy with your progress. If you set yourself unrealistic goals, then the chance of completing them is minimal and you can end up feeling like a failure, even if you have achieved a lot. 

There will always be at least one item on your list which is really important, yet a real chore to get done. For me this is usually something uni related. For some reason (!!) I turn into a complete domestic goddess when I have an essay to write, and that's because I don't prioritise my tasks. Not everything on your list needs to be prioritised, but if there is something that needs to be done urgently, then make sure you keep that in mind.

Set time limits:
Now I'm not a huge fan of setting time limits for myself, but sometimes they have to be used to get harder tasks done. I've found that the more time I give myself to get something done, the less likely I am to get it done in that timeframe - therefore setting myself stricter timeframes increases my productivity, so even if I don't complete the task in the specified amount of time, I tend to get more of it done.

Be flexible:
No one can predict how any given day is going to play out, so attempting to plan out every second of it is pointless. Setting out to-do lists are great, but keep in mind that things pop up and plans change, so be prepared to be flexible with your list, and don't be discouraged if a change in plan disrupts your progress - these things happen. At the end of the day, just accept that things can't always go according to plan, and congratulate yourself on the progress that you have made, rather than concentrating on what could've been.

Try to set specific goals rather than broad ones:
A trap I fall into a lot is setting goals that are far too broad. For example, if one of your tasks is 'clean the house', it's unlikely that you're going to be able to tick that off with confidence at the end of the day. By breaking it down into steps like 'do the washing up', 'clean the bathroom' and 'mop the kitchen floor', you are much more likely to get the cleaning done, and what's more, each time you tick off a specific, yet smaller task, it'll give you the motivation to continue. I've found that big tasks can be a lot easier to handle when they're broken down into more manageable, bite-sized pieces.

Do you guys have any tips for writing to-do lists? How do you keep yourself on track? Let me know!


  1. That little notepad is so cute!! Really useful post, might have to change the way i do my lists, I use the google keep app for my lists/reminders :) X

  2. ninegrandstudentMarch 6, 2015 at 8:52 PM

    This is a great post - I am also in the habit of writing never-ending to do lists! x

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Student Lifestyle Blog

  3. I also have to make a to do list! It's my first job in the morning! I adore this little pad btw xx

  4. Prioritising is #1 when it comes to lists, especially if they are long! I get lost in the simple tasks and put off the bigger ones.

  5. Oh god I am the worst with to do lists hahah my Dad mocks me because of it! I like to list everything really but I have got better and only have about 4/5 aims a day or it gets mad but then I forget things so I find a weekly planner on my wall and post it notes around the house easier to handle xx

  6. Specific goals are key! I always just write useless lists like "do study notes" which encompasses like EVERY SUBJECT and PAGES OF NOTES and I feel overwhelmed and just procrastinate. Also agree with setting limits. I find that I work better with 3 tasks rather than 10 :P

    Sheri | Behind The Frames

  7. Awesome advice, Isobel! I suck terrible with to-do lists, but I'm trying to get better as well. Bought couple of Muji to-do list notebooks and I'll start using them soon!

  8. Glad it was useful for you Karii! Yeah I love this little notebook - I've been using it pretty much everyday! I use an app on my phone as well, but I find crossing out a task on paper more satisfying :) x

  9. Thanks Nicole - it's from M&S! x

  10. Tell me about it! I'm forever ticking off silly tasks when I have much more important things to do! x

  11. Thanks Carla :) Thos Muji notebooks look really nice and clean - good luck! x

  12. Hahaha I've been made fun of by my family as well before - we're just too organised!! x

  13. Hahha I'm exactly the same with being too broad! x