Simplifying To-Do Lists

I make 'To-Do' Lists.  Lots of them.  Especially for my days at home.  They are LONG.  Sometimes I get most of the stuff done, but most of the time I don't even complete half.

While my To-Do Lists are a necessity in keeping me on track, stopping me from procrastinating, and staying productive - my method of them hasn't been helpful.  They are so unrealistic that while I am writing them I am even thinking to myself "I probably won't do this, but I will write it down anyways".  While I do have so many things that I DO want and need to get done, I have been overwhelming myself even more through my lists.

Simplifying my To-Do lists has taken away stress from my days, given me more of a sense of accomplishment, and more focus.  These are the steps you can use to also simplify your long To-Do lists:

1. Make One Massive To-Do List.  On my computer I have one massive To-Do list that I will add things to and take things away from about weekly.  It is almost like a brain dump of everything I need/want to do.  This list does not include daily chores, grocery trips, or even appointments.  It includes things that I want to organize, things that I have been putting off for a while, blogging goals, crafting goals, etc.  They are things that are always at the back of my mind that I wish I would just focus on and accomplish, but I am constantly running out of time or motivation.  I pull from this list sometimes every day, sometimes 3 or 4 times a week, depending on my week.  By completing some of these tasks I am slowly accomplishing my massive list - as slow and a never ending process as it is :).

2.  Make A Weekly To Do List.  My weekly to do list has all the things I hope to finish that week.  It is important to keep this list simplified and realistic as well, so as to not have to fit too much in each day.  I also organize it in order of priority.  This helps me in knowing what I need to focus on first.  After making this list, I will take a look at my week and put tentative days behind each item in order to organize this before making my daily list.

3.  Only Put 5 Things on Your To Do List All Together.  The less, the better.  While it might feel silly to not put more, by limiting yourself you are allowing yourself to focus on those 5 tasks and do a great job at them.  You will be surprised at how much more you end up completing by limiting yourself.

4.  Only Pick 1-3 Chores A Day.  I have learned that having one day set for cleaning stresses me out.  Unless I have someone to watch my baby while I spend a good 2 hours cleaning, I will never get it done.  By only choosing 1-3 chores a day I am allowing myself to keep up with housecleaning but not have a stressful day doing so.  More than often, I will only pick 1 chore.

5.  Put Your List Into Time Blocks.  This extra step may take a bit more time but will help you to see how much time you actually have in the day to complete the tasks you had written down.  By estimating how long each task will take to complete you can decide if you put too much down on your To Do list for this day or too little.

6.  Re-Assess Your List at Lunchtime.  Were you able to accomplish more than you thought?  Feel free to add a few (and I mean only a few) more items for the afternoon.  Did you finish less than you thought?  If possible, take away one of the items and move it to another day.

7.  Add One Item That Will Fill You.  At the end of your list make sure to always add one item that will fill you that day.  This is just as important as every other item on your list.  I talk more about this in my post Back to the Basics.

Our days do not need to be jam packed with things to accomplish and things to do.  I believe that by simplifying our days we are allowing ourselves to focus on the important items and therefore be brought back to our main purpose each day.  This is to live and give glory to God our Saviour - even...especially... amidst the mundane tasks.


  1. I am a big to-do list maker as well. What works for me is making one giant to-do list of things to get done in the future. Then each day I pick 2-3 things off of it to accomplish. It makes it seem less daunting. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great advice. Having a massive to-do list and then smaller daily or weekly to-do lists really helped. I want to write some things down because I feel like I will forget about them otherwise, but I might not be able to get them done that day!

    1. I totally know what you mean -- I always have a million things in my head that I think about getting done. It is SO helpful to have a place to put those things!

  3. Such good advice. I love making to-do lists and often something else takes its place! having a few and prioritizing is so important!! thanks for sharing this.

    1. Yes, prioritizing from the start IS important!

  4. i love to do lists, these are great tips! i especially like the re-accessing and focusing on 1-3 tasks!


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