Why You Must Check Your Todo List Every Single Day

When you get stuck, how do you know what to work on?

Do you pick up the nearest task or the one that is knocking on your door?

The best thing to do is to turn to your todo list.

You are keeping a list, right?

The Power of Your List

When do you check your todo list?

Regularly or only when things are already out-of-control?

Your todo list is you best friend.

It remembers things so you don’t have to.

You need to check it regularly if you want to get the most benefit from it.

Your list reminds you of what you have to do next.

It tells you what is most important.

Check it regularly. Each and every day.

Check Your List!

Some people only check their list when things get busy.

Others constantly start their todo list from scratch.

The best habit is to check it each and every day.

In fact, you could argue that you can’t check your list too often.

(Of course, not at the cost of actually taking action.)

Some of the times when you should “Check Your List:”

  • When you are starting your day.
  • When you are planning your week.
  • When you are stuck.
  • When you want to know all of your obligations.
  • When you don’t know what to do next.
  • When you are on a break.
  • While you are waiting.
  • When someone asks you what is on your plate.
  • Before you commit to something new.
  • When you forget what you had to do.
  • When you are finishing your day.
  • Right now.

When in Doubt, Check Your List

Don’t underestimate the power of your todo list.

It is one of the most useful productivity tools that you have.

So, check it regularly. It has your back.

Today, work your list.

Question: Do you maintain your todo list regularly or only when things get hectic? When was the last time you checked it?

Invest just 10 minutes a day toward the right ideas, behaviors and strategies to finally be more productive at work…so you can spend less time there! 31 Days, 31 Ways: Daily Tips for Time Management Mastery is my time management course, containing 31 powerful daily lessons and 31 actionable exercises designed to help you take action, reduce stress, and reclaim your time. Click here to learn more.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I agree completely. One thing to remember is if there is a big task that is on your To Do list you might intentionally or subconsciously avoid getting it done. It’s too daunting at is it. You need to break it down into smaller tasks that you CAN do. It doesn’t have too granular, but just small enough that you can tackle it. I think that’s a big problem a lot of people have as well — avoiding tasks that are just too big to handle as they are.

    • Tracey Smith

      Good point Ken. I also heard this stated as “watch the language” on your list as how you write something can influence your attitude and willingness to do it. So instead of listing “Do Budget” (which can seem daunting) you could list “figure bills for August” or “calculate costs of garden project” as smaller parts of the master project.

  • Craig, thanks for the post. I think that you are on to something- forcing ourselves to check the list is critical to productivity. Sometimes our momentum lulls us into thinking that we don’t have to check it so often. @Ken Britz, good point. The list helps us to break projects down into smaller bits. ANother reason why I use Omnifocus and Nozbe…

  • EkstromChris

    Excellent post. I live by my todo-list. Personally I use Todo from Appigo, perfect for my Mac with sync to my iPhone.

  • I am constantly adding, crossing out, and checking my to do list at work. There is no way I could manage without it. If its not on the list, it won’t get done.

    • Tracey Smith

      I do the same…my list is very fluid. I also try to rank the tasks in order of importance.

  • Dana

    Oops, I’ve been checking e-mails and not looking at my list! Okay, I’m on it! Thanks for the reminder.