To Do List
20 Feb, 2018

4 Reasons You Should Be Writing A Daily To-Do List (And How To Make Them Work)

We all have 24 hours in a day. There’s no way to get more time, at least for now.
For your business, 24 hours could mean launching your new podcast, or getting that batch of content ready, or even tweaking your ad campaigns.

The difference between your business and that competitor that’s taking over the market is in the results they’re getting.

So how come two businesses have the same time in a day to get results but one seems to be better at it?

Simple. They know how to control their time. And a to-do list is one tool that allows many entrepreneurs do this.

Here’s why you should start writing a daily list:

A To-Do List Puts You In Charge Of Your Time

This is one of the main reasons many people start a to-do list.

If you can make a rough assessment, you’ll see you’re wasting time you should have invested in more productive work.

Liking cute cat photos on Facebook or Reddit is fun but it doesn’t get the work done.

Check your call logs and see how much time you’re spending on unnecessary chatter.

If you start a to-do list, you can have time for social media on your list.
So when you’re tweeting or retweeting on Twitter, you know you’re not wasting time, it’s actually time you’ve allocated for that activity.

A To-Do List Gives You A Bird’s Eye View

There are few things as frustrating as not getting anything done and not even knowing what you need to get done.

With a to-do list, everything is connected so it all begins to make sense.

You need to publish content before promoting it with an outreach tool, so you’ll know you’re wasting time searching for the best outreach software when you’re not even done editing your post.

This general view also helps you avoid repetitions, so if it’s time to make payments to your host, it makes sense to include software renewals and others in that section so you know you’re done with payments for the day.

A To-Do List Helps You Prioritize

If you run a business, you tend to want superhuman abilities sometimes.

You try to do everything, you try to send 10,000 personalized emails, and try to draft a content plan, and try to run your Ad accounts.

This doesn’t end well of course so you start to feel burned out.

A to-do list helps you get done with the most important items and empties your brain of trivial items.

Just a glance at your list and you’ll discover you’re supposed to take it one step at a time.

A To-Do List Gives You A Feeling of Accomplishment

That feeling when you cross an item off your list and move on to the next is one that spurs you to do even better at the present task.

Why You Never Finish Your To-Do List

This may be you. So you started writing to-do lists but you’re still not getting anything done?

Here’s why that’s happening:

You Write It In The Morning

For your lists to work, you need to plan ahead.

Writing a list in the night helps with having a calm sleep because you know your day is already planned out.

So you can start working on those tasks the moment you’re out of bed.

You’re Working On Too Many Projects

Writing a list of too many things to do is the perfect way to set yourself up for failure.

If you try to do everything, you won’t do anything.

So this is where to decide what you want to delegate, don’t be the bottleneck, don’t try to stifle your own growth.

You’re Not Specific

It’s a to-do list and not a future goals note and you need to get this before your list would work for you.

Don’t write something like “grow traffic”, it’s vague, doesn’t look like an action plan and like the subhead says, not specific.

Say, “promote post on Twitter” instead. Now that’ll help drive traffic to your post and it’s very clear what you should do to get that traffic.

You’re Not Flexible

Look, a to-do list is a guide. So, everything won’t always follow a pattern.

It’s possible that during the 1-hour window you’ve set to promote your post, you may need to cut off distractions like email or go to an area with wifi coverage.

All of those little deviations suck time so you should account for them by having a section for “miscellaneous” items and allocating an hour or two to it.

Once you’ve dealt with these problems, it’s time to make that list work, I’ve already mentioned a few ways to get that done but more won’t hurt.

How To Make Your To-Do List Work

Add Rewards

Distractions are one very common reason you’re not finishing the work on your list. You can counter that by making these distractions little rewards.

So if you’re spending so much time on YouTube, commit to finishing a little part of your task before watching one video.

Improve by working on a complete task and reward yourself by watching a video once you’re done.

And that’s how YouTube changed from being a distraction to a reward.

Combine High-Energy Tasks With Low-Energy Ones

There are some items you have no problems getting off your list.

Maybe they’re way easier to finish or you just enjoy doing them.

There are others that take lots of mental energy and you usually dread doing them.

So combine them. Do one “sweet” easy task and do a “not so sweet” hard task after that.

Then keep alternating till you get all or most of the work on your list done.

Some Tools That Can Help

A good way to apply the techniques in this post is by getting tools that help with writing and maintaining to-do lists.

There’s no way you can set reminders with paper lists.

Google Keep and Trello are two different tools you can use, Trello having both a free and  paid option.

To get a great tool, make sure it’s compatible with other apps like the calendar on your device.

Cloud-based options are usually better as you can access your lists on different devices anytime you want them.

Enough of hearing from me. What tools do you use to keep track of your to-dos?

Also published on Medium.