Do you keep a to-do list to tackle tasks?

Is it working for you?

I admit I’m a to-do list person. If it’s not on my list, it doesn’t get done.

I have lists for nearly every part of my life. There are three key lists – business, personal, and community outreach.

My business list includes tasks I need to do that are work-related. It includes tasks for marketing, clients, and general administration.

My personal list includes things I need to buy for my home, such as groceries and furnishings. It also includes projects I need to do around the house, such as replace batteries in the smoke detectors.

My community outreach list includes tasks I need to accomplish for each organization I volunteer my time. Typically I’m on a committee or Board and there’s pre-work before meetings.

For my multiple lists, I use Evernote. In this way, it’s easy to access on my mobile, tablet, or laptop. There are other apps to help you stay organized – this one works best for my needs.

My to-do lists help me stay organized and productive. But during the past year, I found my lists growing faster than I can get things done.

It became more frustrating and de-motivating.

Part of the problem was I kept procrastinating doing some items. They stayed on my list but moved down in priority.

If you find yourself drowning in items on your to-do list, here are three ways I found that will help get tasks crossed off your list.

1- Break down the larger tasks into smaller steps.

Many of the items I kept procrastinating were large tasks. I knew it would take more time than I had available. For that reason, I kept shifting it in priority and it stayed on my to-do list.

To address this procrastination tactic, I broke down larger tasks into smaller steps. Instead of writing “paint guest room,” I wrote each small step. For example, steps included selecting paint color, purchasing paint tools, prepping room, painting room, and cleaning up afterward.

With this change, I could tackle each step on separate days or I could combine steps depending on my available time.

2- Add fun to the low priority tasks.

For the low priority tasks on my to-do list, I printed that part of my list. Then I created strips for each task by cutting them on the paper. I folded each strip and placed them in a box.

Every week, I pull out a strip from my box. I now have to complete that task during the week.

This approach may sound silly to some but it adds a little fun to the process. Some tasks are dreaded – that’ why I kept moving them to the bottom of the list. Even though I dreaded these tasks, they still needed to be done — that’s why they were on my list.

3- Schedule priority tasks.

For priority tasks, I went ahead and blocked off time to do that task on my calendar. Depending on the task, I would block off one or two hours.

I would then scheduled around it. By time blocking on my calendar, I committed myself to get that priority task accomplished.

Using these approaches, I was able to get tasks crossed off my growing to-do lists. If you have the same issue, then try one or all of the approaches mentioned in this post. Let me know if it helped you take control of your to-do list.

Make 2020 your best year ever and stay PEF (positive, enthused, and focused)!


Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”