There’s a problem with To-Do lists. They have a habit of growing. And growing. And growing.
We start by jotting down a few items we don’t want to forget. Then, we think of a couple more things, a handful of grocery list items, a reminder of someone’s birthday, and before we know it we’re writing on the back of the page, and have a partial list of things that both a) have no realistic chance of being completed today, nor b) have any real relationship to each other let alone some grand plan.
That’s ok. But it’s only ok if we recognize that to-do list for what it is, and use other tools appropriately to compensate for its shortcomings.
Enter: The Today-To-Do List
Our Today-To-Do List serves as a cheat-sheet for what we are to do today. For maximum effectiveness, it needs to be limited to just that.
- Keep it short: Identify your #1 priority for the day – the one thing that you will get done at the expense of all other tasks. Then add 3-5 additional tasks that you might try to do once you’ve completed your top priority;
- Keep it separate: Don’t use your To-Day List as a parking lot for anything and everything you need to remember. Use more robust digital tools to keep track of mid- and long-term plans, detailed lists, and reference info so you can stay focused on To-Day items;
- Keep it close: Consider your To-Day List an EDC item. New term? EDC = Everyday Carry. It should be within easy reach, quick to review or update, and portable enough to never leave your side;
- Keep it fresh: Review your progress at the end of the day, then create a new list at the start of the next day rather than keeping a running list from the prior day;
Turn your To-Do List into a Today-To-Do List by keeping it short, separate, close, and fresh, and you’ll find it becomes one of the most powerful tools in your personal productivity arsenal.