How to be More Productive with Efficient Daily ‘To Do’ Lists

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Too much to do and not enough hours in the day. Isn’t it always like that? It’s like, for every task I cross off my ‘To Do’ list, I add two more. It simply never ends. I’ve decided to accept the fact that I’ll never be ‘caught up’ but I am working daily to get there as close as possible. To do so, I am becoming more efficient with my tasks and ‘To Do’ lists.

How to Make Efficient To Do Lists

I am an extreme list maker. I make lists for just about everything and anything. Chasing three kids around all day makes it easy to forget even the simplest thoughts. This makes writing everything down more important. , I have been changing it up to make it easier to complete tasks and feel more accomplished each day.  Here are some things that help me be productive:

Make a New List Every Day: I block out at least 10 minutes each morning, while having a cup of coffee, to re-write my lists. This way I can start with a clean slate, remove all the complete tasks, and remind myself what needs to get done.

Break List Into Sections: I recently started sectioning out my ‘To Do’ list. I have my household tasks, tasks to do while on the computer, tasks to do while on my blog, and tasks to do when I am upstairs. This way, when I am on the computer, I can easily see the things I need to get done all together in one spot.

Tips for Creating 'To Do' Lists

Make Each Task Under 5 Minutes: This is the most important for me. Each task should not take more than 5 minutes. If I have something that takes longer, I will break it down into two or more tasks. For instance, instead of “clean the bathroom” it becomes “clean the bathroom toilet”, “wipe down the bathroom counter”, “clean the bathroom mirror”. If every tasks is under 5 minutes, I know when I have a few minutes I can easily just pick something and get it done. This could be while I am waiting on water to boil, the kids are finishing up a meal or snack, or before I start working.

Having your tasks broken down will make your list longer. BUT, it also gives you more tasks crossed off at the end of the day (hopefully). This always makes me feel more accomplished and motivated to finish the last few before bed.

*I know some things cannot be broken down into 5 minute tasks, but I always try to get them broken down as much as possible.

Do Your Least Favorite Task First: Get it out of the way! Especially if it only takes a few minutes. One of the household chores I dislike the most is unloading and loading the dishwasher. It has to get done everyday, but I still try to put it off and it just gets worse. When I finally just do it, it doesn’t even take 5 minutes. If you dread doing something, get it out of the way first so you don’t have to think about it all day long.

Keep Your List In View: I typically keep my list on my kitchen island. I spend a lot of the day in the kitchen or at least walking though it. If I can see it, I will most likely stop to complete at least one or two items.

Reward Yourself: If I have a really productive morning, crossing off tasks every few minutes and getting things accomplished, I like to reward myself. I.E If I have errands to run, I’ll drive through Starbucks and get a Carmel Macchiato or a Frapp. I deserve it! I just got done doing 3 loads of laundry, unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned all 3 bathrooms, got some work done on the computer and went to Target with three kids all before lunchtime. We all deserve to a little treat for ourselves sometimes!

What is Google Keep

Do What Works for YOU: Everyone is different. I am pen and paper kinda gal, so I prefer to hand write my list down. I know there are a lot of apps for that, but I haven’t found one that I’ve fallen in love with. Normally after a day or two, I end up forgetting about it or deleting it because it’s not what I want.

I recently noticed Google has a new app Google Keep (or I’m late to the game and it’s older). I have been using it for a couple weeks now and it isn’t too bad. It’s simple and offers a nice homescreen widget. I can make different color coded ‘notes’ so each of my lists are broken up. I can add a list, picture, voice recording, or just text to each ‘note’. It also syncs with my Google account so I can view and edit it on my computer. It’s nothing fancy, but it has gotten the job done.

I like having my list as a widget on my phone since I have my phone at all times. Then I can access it and add things when I am running errands or not near my paper list. I do cross reference both of them, but that is what works for me right now. No matter what I try I can’t get away from the old fashion pen and paper.

Is there an app that you use and love for tasks and lists? I am very open to some suggestions!


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6 comments on How to be More Productive with Efficient Daily ‘To Do’ Lists

  • Brooke @ Blushing Noir

    I love your ideas for to-do lists! I need to break things down to the 5-minute rule, that will be a huge benefit.

    I keep a separate written one for my blog and household stuff. Recently I started use the Cozi app, which allows for a to do list, calendar, shopping, journal and can be accessed from anywhere, even your comp! You also assign colors to each member of your household to keep the calendar organized.

    • Samantha (author)

      Thanks for the suggestion! I will definitely check Cozi out!

  • Jessica Rinker

    Great tip on the 5 minute breakdown. I’ve seen it before but not really paid attention. My biggest problem is things like cleaning the bathroom i view as losing 30 min of my life lol so maybe 5 min increments will be less foreboding. Bookmarking this to sit down with and plan a list tomorrow, thanks!

  • Cindy (Prime Beauty)

    I love lists and the feeling I get when I get when I check things off!

  • Michelle Kay

    I think you really have some excellent tips here. Like you it’s hard for me to get away from using paper as well. I haven’t found an app that I just have to have, so for me paper works best. I like the 5 minute idea, I’m going to try that this week and let you know how it goes! Thanks!!

  • Jodi @ A Mom Having Fun

    Those are great suggestions! I am always looking for a better way to be more efficient and productive so this is right up my alley. I love the idea of breaking the tasks down to 5-minute or less! Thank you for posting this! Bookmarking and checking out the Google App. :-)

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