We’ve all heard of a “to-do list,” and we use it for a variety of reasons: organizing our day-to-day activities, listing homework assignments, outlining household cleaning chores, or a reminder of the day’s errands. Whatever the reason, a to-do list serves the purpose of reminding us of the things we need to complete. But is there a wrong way to use a to-do list? Here are a few DO’s and DON’Ts:
- Make a to-do list at the beginning of the day. Many people find it helpful to create a to-do list at the start of their day. If you’re anything like me, your mind is going 100 miles a minute trying to think of all the things you need to get done that day. Writing the tasks down helps get it out of your head and onto paper, making it less overwhelming.
- Complete high priority items first and then go on to complete other items. When you complete the tasks you really need to get done, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes the other tasks seem less daunting.
- Make a long-term and a short-term to-do list. Sometimes we have things that need our immediate attention and other times, we have things we can get done later. Having the two lists helps us prioritize what should be done now and what can be finished on our downtime.
- Don’t think you are a failure if you don’t complete all the items on your to-do list. Life happens and sometimes we are not able to do everything that we planned; this doesn’t make you a failure, only human.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself with tasks. This can cause anxiety and you may be setting yourself up for unrealistic expectations.
- Don’t make a to-do list if you never use it. Don’t waste your time if a to-do list doesn’t work for you. There are alternative ways you can organize your day to remind yourself of the things you need to get done. One way is to set reminders on your phone if writing them down isn’t helpful.
Whether you check off tasks as you complete them or wait until the entire list is accomplished, there is no right way to create a to-do list because it is different for everyone. Something that may encourage you to create and complete a to-do list is to find cool templates to write your list on. Remember a to-do list is there to help you accomplish your goals and/or tasks for the day. If you feel your list is doing more harm than good, try something else to get you motivated.
Hope and Healing Center & Insitute Social Work Intern