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Effectively Using To-do Lists

Types of to-do lists

A to-do list is a simple and commonly used scheduling tool. It captures all the important tasks you need to complete within a given time period. To-do lists usually cover a day, but can cover a week, a month, or any designated time period. A to-do list is compiled with your schedule, and many written and electronic planners have to-do lists built in.

Like schedules, to-do lists contain tasks you need to complete. But to-do lists are different from schedules in that tasks are listed by priority, rather than by time. When you look over your to-do list, you can assess the tasks in order of priority. Crossing off the tasks on your to-do list can be a great motivator. It’s also a good way to monitor your productivity.

Some businesspeople keep different to-do lists to serve the different functions they have to fulfill. There are several types of to-do lists:

  • daily to-do list — The daily to-do list is a list of the action items to be completed within a business day. Some people create their to-do list from their schedules, others create the list first and use it to complete their schedules each day.
  • project to-do list — A project to-do list itemizes the actions needed to meet deadlines and milestones for a specific project or initiative. This type of to-do list can help you plan a long-term schedule more efficiently.
  • long-term to-do list — A long-term to-do list itemizes the tasks that are valuable for working toward your goals, but aren’t time-sensitive. These may be tasks you want to do at some point, but don’t have the time or resources to pursue at the present time. The long-term to-do list is useful as a reference when you find you have some time on your hands and can afford to work ahead on long-term goals.

Different people can use to-do lists in different ways in different situations. Some people maintain a personal to-do list alongside a business list. Other people combine the two to create a balanced “life list.”