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how to make a good to-do list

27 mayo, 2021

The to-do lists they have two faces: they can be one shape very practical to organize your day to day, either working in an office or from home, or they can become your worst enemy, in that monster that stalks you every morning at the beginning of your day and that it seems that it will never disappear from your sight.

If the second face we have described before is the one that most closely resembles you, you have a problem with your to-do list. But there are ways to redirect the situation, and turn it into a tool that helps you complete the objectives that you set for each day, and end your work day with the satisfaction of duty fulfilled (Yes, it sounds corny, but it is a very pleasant sensation, why are we going to fool ourselves).

How a to-do list can go from being useful to becoming an obstacle in your productivity is usually a consequence of the most common mistakes when creating it. Because it may seem like a very simple task (write what you have to do on paper or in an app), but creating a task list that is really effective has its trick.

In this article we give you some suggestions on Applications to manage your to-do list, and also advice so that, instead of a hindrance, it is an invaluable help to organize your work and improve your productivity.

To do list apps

Apps to make to-do lists, there are a handfuls. It is probably one of the software categories where we find more options, also on all platforms, from the web to mobile operating systems.

This variety is also maintained in the type of application. In other words, you have applications very, very simple, with which you simply create lists of items that you then cross out with a click; and then you also have tools with quite a few more configuration options, for those who need a little more.

Whatever the to-do list app ideal for you, there are so many to choose from that you will surely find the one that best suits your circumstances.

For example, if you are looking for a to-do list app the simplest, which works directly in the web browser and does not even require creating a user account, you can use Daily All: you open the page in a tab, you create your list … and to work.

An option also for the browser, although with a design a little more worked and with user profile, it is Do it (Tomorrow): an online to-do list (with mobile version as well) that allows you to divide your tasks between what you can do today and tomorrow.

Do it tomorrow

If you use Chrome, a good option is also to use an extension. MomentumFor example, it reminds you of your to-do list every time you open a new tab – a very simple and effective way to avoid procrastination.

If you want to jump from the browser to mobileTo always have your to-do list at hand, you can use an application that has a version for both platforms. Options in this field are not lacking either, with some of them as well known as Wunderlist, Todoist and

In addition, all of them have free use plans, so that you can try them without obligation before deciding on the one that best suits your tastes and needs. You have more interesting candidates in this other article.

But the thing does not end with to-do list applications. If you are a fan of Excel (there are people for everything), you can also use a to-do list template and manage your daily workload right there.

Another tool that can help you, especially if it is about long-term tasks integrated into a larger project, is Trello; With this utility you can manage large-scale work projects, dividing them into smaller fragments and organizing them by categories, without losing sight of any of the associated tasks at a single moment.


In addition to digital solutions, do not underestimate the traditional paper diary. For many (including myself) it ends up being the method that works best for them. Paper diaries still have that “I don’t-know-what” that makes them terribly attractive in the eyes of many people, although that is not the only thing that makes them so effective.

Numerous studies have shown the benefits of handwrite above typing on a computer or mobile phone, to which we must add that an agenda is usually more flexible, easier to use, more accessible and often gives us a feeling of satisfaction not getting any app.

Also, if you want to combine your paper diary with a productivity method, like the famous Bullet Journal or Strikethru, which we already talked about here in its day.

Which method is better for making a to-do list?

We said at the beginning that the main reason why a to-do list stops being useful is because a series of tasks are committed. very common mistakes when creating and working with them. Those errors are:

  • Make the to do list too long.
  • Do not prioritize tasks correctly.
  • Not calculate correctly time who will carry each task.
  • Mix different types of tasks to each other.

To avoid these mistakes, there are a series of tips that anyone who starts working with a to-do list can apply, whether they are using a normal notebook of paper, or a mobile application with integration for smartwatch. Are these:

  • Make your to-do list the day before. Don’t make the mistake of sitting down to work at your desk and the first thing you do is create a list of what you have to do that day; you will be wasting precious time, and also probably the hours in which you are fresher and more energetic. No, the ideal time to prepare your list is at the end of the day of the previous day; This way you can pass some task that has been left in the pipeline, and calmly plan the next day’s work as the end of your work day.

  • Be careful with the length. Making a to-do list with 20 items is a big mistake; does not make you more productive, you overwhelm yourself just looking at it and it will most likely cause you a feeling of dissatisfaction at the end of the day without being able to complete it. To-do lists should be short and focused on what is most important. Two recommended methods are 3 + 2 (three important tasks plus two less important tasks) and the 1-3-5 (one major task, three minor tasks and five mini-tasks)

Tasks list
  • Keep lists separate. One trick for those who are unable to make such short lists is to keep two lists separate from the main to-do list. One would be the “dump list“, a list where overturn everything that is on your mind and what you have to do, and what you will be including and prioritizing in your main list as you complete tasks; the other would be the “Low energy list“, a mini-to-do list to complete when you are already tired, or as a “break” between two other more demanding tasks.

  • Organize tasks in some way. Either ordering them by priority, or segmenting them by the type of task (things from work, personal things, household things), it is important to categorize your tasks in some way. If you put them all together in a single list, it will be more difficult to complete everything.

  • Create specific tasks. The to-do list is to help you be more productive, not to make you think. That is why it is essential that they be as accurate as possible, and that they contain all the information what do you need. Because it is not the same to have as a task “write article for the blog” than something like “Article for the blog: list with productivity apps (links already selected in the WordPress draft)”: a concise task, with all the data that you need to get to work on it right away.

  • Note the time. It is difficult to know in advance how long it will take to complete each task on your list, but as you use it, experience will help you do it. Y estimate that time It is important when adding new items to your list and combining them with others, to be able to complete everything you propose in the time you have to work (or divide it into two or more days, depending on what you need).

  • Cross out what you get. It will not only help keep the list organized and know what you have already completed, but also on a psychological level the feeling of the work completed will give you great satisfaction (and a little extra motivation to go for the next one).

  • Try various methods and stick with the best one that works for you. Here we have talked about web applications, mobile apps, paper diaries, 3 + 2 lists, dump list, low energy list, lists organized by priority or by category … but finding the method that works best in the end it’s up to each one. The important thing is to get a method (or a mixture of several, which can also be done) that suits you, to your tastes and needs, to your way of working – and not the other way around. If you notice that you have to make an effort to adapt your way of working to your method of managing the task list, something is not right, and you have to explore new alternatives.

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