7 Ways to Stick to Your Todo List

Mondays are great days to work on your todo list.

You can look back to what you didn’t complete.

And you can look ahead to what you need to accomplish this week.

But, sticking to your list can be a challenge.

How do you stay on target to the todos that are on your list?

Stay on Your List

You make your todo list so that you know what you need to do.

You probably assign priorities or order the tasks on it.

However, it can be easy to set our list down and work on every little task that presents itself.

Have you ever picked up a small task that wasn’t on your list?

Soon, you have spent 3 hours doing something that you had not planned on doing today.

(And probably shouldn’t have been doing…)

Going off your todo list for even simple little tasks,

can result in distractions that take up the majority of your day.

A quick web task ends up in a 30 minute surfing session.

A simple 2-minute todo becomes 2 hours of searching for a lost piece of information.

That is why it is important to stick to your list.

7 Ways to Stick to Your Todo List

Your todo list can be one of your best friends.

It can keep you honest. It can keep you on task.

And it can prevent you from doing things that you shouldn’t be doing.

However, you have to stick by your list if it is going to help you.

Here Are 7 Ways to Stick to Your Todo List:

  1. Capture – Your list is only as good as the items that you put on it. Make sure you capture all tasks to your list. One way to keep from being diverted is to capture that errant todo to your list for later.
  2. Don’t Go Off List – When you find yourself starting a task, stop and make sure that it is on your list. If not, go back to your list. Stick to the tasks that you know you should be doing.
  3. Have One List – It is important that you have one list. Don’t scribble notes anywhere. (Like on a Post-It note…) Having multiple lists inevitably leads to lost and forgotten tasks.
  4. Review Your List Regularly – You should have your list with you at all times. (This makes #1 possible.) And you should review your list every single day.
  5. Keep It Visible – Keeping your todo list visible leads to action. Put your list where you can see it. When your list is out of sight, your tasks are out-of-mind.
  6. Delete Things Off Your List – Just because you added that task to your list, doesn’t mean you have to do it. You may capture something to your list only to find later that it wasn’t really important. Don’t hesitate to delete unnecessary tasks from your list.
  7. Check Those Tasks Off! – It doesn’t matter whether you use a check mark or an “X.” Marking things off your list feels good. That is why people add already completed things to their list, just so they can cross them off. Celebrate each task completed by checking it off your list.

Only Do The Tasks on Your List

Going off your list for even the smallest of tasks can lead you down rabbit holes of non-productivity.

Today, stick to your todo list.

You will find that you get more done.

And by staying on track, you will get your most important work done first.

Question: How do you stick to your todo list?

6 thoughts on “7 Ways to Stick to Your Todo List

  1. But sometimes I want to do things that aren’t on my list because they’re more fun than the things that are on my list. Or they’re easier. Or I don’t want to be bossed by my list!
    You are SO right about staying with the list. I can’t tell you how often I’ve wandered off course doing that very thing. Then I get to the end of the day and I missed something really important. That is so frustrating! And discouraging if I have to spend time in the evening, when my brain is fried, to finish something I should have done earlier.
    Thanks for the good advice.

  2. I have two lists. One for today, and one master list. I like to keep today’s list simple. The rest goes on my master list so I won’t forget about it. Lately I have been fascinated by Ed Weissman’s idea below. I’m not that extreme, but I have been definitely working on reducing my list for today as much as possible in order to make sure that I get my priorities done.

    “I like to keep it simple. My list has 1 item on it. I work on that until either it’s done (often) or I struggle so much with it that I decide to change plans (rarely).”
    – Ed Weissman

  3. Great list Craig. The one I find most of my clients don’t spend enough time on is the number 7. Me too! It’s taken a while for me to learn to celebrate what gets completed on the To Do list. If you don’t do that you find the day very unsatisfying and ultimately in the long term that can lead to deeper consequences.

  4. Add a timeline to your day is something I’ve learnt. And then add a buffer to each task. If a task takes longer you don’t end up feeling behind all day. And if you get ahead, reward yourself with a tea break! I find having time constraints forces me to focus more on what i’m doing.

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