advertisement
advertisement

How do you make a to-do list that works?

When it comes to one of productivity’s most basic elements, the to-do list, everyone has their own approach. So in this episode of “Secrets of the Most Productive People” we talked to the creator of the popular bullet journal about how to figure out what system works for you.

How do you make a to-do list that works?
[Photo: Flickr user Stacy Spensley]

advertisement
advertisement

To-do lists are the bread and butter of productivity gripes. Although it seems like it should be a simple process, there are many different hacks, systems, and methods that people swear by. Some people categorize their items, while others cap it at six items a day. Then there are also those who choose to forgo it altogether. Fast Company contributor Judith Humphrey, for example, doesn’t use a to-do list because she believes that it dampens her creativity and makes her less excited about accomplishing tasks.

Designer Ryder Carroll spent many hours experimenting with these methods, before finally creating his own methods that many would soon adopt–the bullet journal. In this episode of Secrets of The Most Productive People, Carroll shares his to-do list journey, and dispels the misconceptions that people might have about how it works. As he wrote in The Bullet Journal Method: Track The Past, Order The Present, Design The Future“The only thing that matters in BuJo is the content, not the presentation. If you can elevate both, then my hat’s off to you. But the only artistic skill required is the ability to draw straight-ish lines. If you can manage that, then you’ll be fine.”

Carroll acknowledges that the bullet journal method doesn’t work for everyone–so we also made sure to cover other tips and tricks to improve your to-do list in our “You might want to write this down” segment.

Three tips to maximize your productivity out of your to-do list

1. Divide your long list into sections.  Separate out meetings, events, and calls from things that you hope to accomplish during those times. Then create a separate section of to-dos that don’t fit in those categories, and work through those when you’re not attending meetings, are at an event, or in a conference call.

2. Batch similar tasks together. Answering emails require a different thinking muscle than brainstorming new revenue streams. Make it easier on your brain by grouping tasks that require similar thought process together. Don’t try to do your creative work after spending an hour answering or filing emails. Task switching takes time.

3. Include an anti to-do list. Sometimes the key to getting things done is to remind yourself what’s not important. Do you really need to attend to that thing that popped up at lunch, or would you be better off spending your afternoon tackling that long-term project? We all have 24 hours in a day, and the reality is, you just can’t do everything.

advertisement

You can find the episode on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherSpotifyRadioPublic, or wherever you get your podcasts. Do you keep a to-do list? Are there any hacks you swear by? Send us pictures of your to-do list using the hashtag #FCMostProductive and be sure to subscribe to Secrets of the Most Productive People so you don’t miss an episode.

advertisement
advertisement

About the author

Anisa is the assistant editor for Fast Company's Work Life section. She covers everything from productivity to the future of work

More