How to maximise efficiency using a simple to-do list

How to maximise efficiency using a simple to-do list

Are you looking for a simple way to increase efficiency at work and in everyday life? Then look no further!

The to-do list is a well-known tool nowadays. It seems to simple – and yet, it’s one of the most effective  tool for maximizing efficiency, productivity, and reducing stress.

And the best part about to-do lists? They take minutes to make, they’re accessible to anyone and they’re completely free!

So let’s discuss how exactly to-do lists can boost you efficiency.

Writing down tasks relieves stress

One major source of inefficiency and procrastination is the stress about having too much to do. You don’t know where to start, you’re scared of forgetting something important. It can all just feel too overwhelming and lead to a sort of paralysis that won’t get you anywhere.

My tip: just start by writing down everything you have to do. With this simple step, you’re already one step closer to an efficient lifestyle!

Once you get everything out of your brain and onto the paper (or your phone), you’ll be able to tackle your to-do list without being constantly scared of forgetting a task.

To-do lists increase visibility

Not only does a to-do list alleviate stress, but it does so much more. Having a list of tasks allows you to see at once what needs to be accomplished. The upside? You can actually plan your day to maximise efficiency, instead of running left and right without a real plan.

Once your to-do list for the day is complete, you’ll be able to see which tasks are important, urgent, or can be done sometime else if you run out of time. You’ll also notice that some tasks are best done together, like running 2 errands in the same area, or completing 2 tasks that require a similar state of mind.

And if you end up running out of time, you’ll be able to see that in advance and be able to adjust for the remainder of the day.

To-do lists help you prioritise

While I have written a separate article about prioritising (which is key for efficient time management), to-do lists are a great way to do so. By dividing you tasks into important, urgent and all the rest, you’ll able to decide what needs to be tackled first.

Ideally, you’ll complete the urgent tasks quickly and then focus the most of your time on important items, as these are the ones that truly count and help you progress in life.

The remaining tasks, such as doing laundry (unless you have nothing left to wear and it’s urgent), can wait for another day if need be.

To-do lists ensure that you meet your deadlines

If you have a list of all your tasks, it’s very easy to add a deadline right next to them. You can even colour-code your to-do list if you like! Think red tasks for today, blue tasks by the end of the week, green for long-term projects. This is a great way to efficiently manage your time and get everything done before the deadline.

You could also create multiple lists for each day of the week, which is my personal favourite. Just remember that you’ll probably have to adjust them as you go.

Prioritising your tasks according to deadlines gives you great visibility. You will no longer suddenly remember things at the last minute, but be able to plan and adjust your schedule for maximum efficiency.

Focusing on one task at a time increases efficiency

If you don’t write a to-do list, half of your brain will be stressing about everything you haven’t started yet. However, a comprehensive to-do list will allow you to focus solely on your current task.

Concentrating entirely on the task you’re working on will increase focus, prevent errors, and make you work a lot faster overall. Talk about increasing efficiency!

Ensure efficiency by tackling big projects one step at a time

One mistake I see so many people make is getting caught up in all the little tasks and never making time to work on bigger projects. While I totally understand that there is nothing more daunting than looking at a big project and not knowing where to start, ignoring it certainly isn’t the way to go.

When you write your to-do list for the day or week, always remember to include some tasks related to bigger projects. Do this even if the deadline seems far away! Because the truth is, it will approach faster than you think. In the end, you might not have time to complete everything, become stressed and be forced to work late.

The secret is to divide your project into little pieces. You can keep the list of small tasks aside and add them to your current to-do lists as you go. This will ensure that you’re constantly working toward your goals.

To-do lists should contain every single task

Especially when you’re working from home, your daily to-do lists should include tasks like feeding your cat, calling your grandma or doing yoga.

Although these aren’t technically work-related, having a comprehensive list will make sure that nothing gets forgotten. In addition, doing these non-work-related tasks in between work projects acts as little breaks for you brain. Thus, you’ll be able to focus better and be even more efficient.

Short to-do lists for optimal efficiency

Whe have established that to-do lists are a great tool to increase efficiency in work and life. They also help you be productive when you’re not feeling motivated. But it won’t work if you give yourself 65 things to do in a day!

Instead, opt for a very short list of 4 or 5 tasks – you can take these out of a more extensive list that you already have – and if you accomplish these, you can still add more later on.

As you can probably tell, to-do lists are very simple yet incredibly effective tools to get things done. And while I just gave you plenty of reasons to believe in their practicality, I also wanted to give you two tips on how to enjoy them more:

Make your to-do list pretty

While making a pretty to-do list might seem stupid at first, it does make a lot of sense. You will be looking at it all day long and chances are that a pretty list is going to motivate you much more than an ugly one would.

If you don’t feel like creating your own pretty to-do lists, you can download mine for free by subscribing to my emails!

Keep your to-do list clean and on one page

Having a clean and easy-to-read to-do list is very important. You don’t want to waste time figuring out your writing or what you meant when you wrote down that task!

I also have seen people have a 5-page to-do list to work with every day. In my opinion, it’s impossible to not get overwhelmed or miss something when you have 5 pages in front of you. Instead, keep your to-do list very clear and to the point for maximum efficiency.

I always make sure that my tasks for the day (or even multiple days) fit on one A5 page. If your writing is bigger than mine, you might take an A4 page, but you only get to use one side! Everything on your to-do list needs to be visible at once, easy to read and understand.

Whenever my to-do lists start to get messy or mostly consist of completed tasks, I rewrite them. It might seem excessive, but I assure you that it really works.

How to be super efficient using a to-do list

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A don’t forget to download my free printable to-do lists by subscribing to my email. 🙂

36 Replies to “How to maximise efficiency using a simple to-do list”

  1. Hahaha I love this article. I also find that creating a to do list really helps me get tasks done. But when I also find good is starting the day early, exercising and having a good breakfast. Then my body feels good and I feel like I can take on each task.
    Thanks for this!

    1. Thank you. 🙂 And I agree! I also find that it’s easier to get things done if you take a bit of time in the morning to exercise etc.

  2. I Love a To-Do list! It actually helps me feel less stressed when everything I need to do is written down instead of fluttering around in my head. Great post!

    1. Thank you 🙂

  3. love it 😀 number 6 is my favourite, I always keep it simple by focusing on top 3 tasks so it’s easier to get it done and be productive one task at a time 😀

    1. I never understand how some people work with to-do lists that are 5 pages long! It always freaks me out more than anything, haha! I’m glad you liked it. 🙂

  4. I used to teach this sort of thing as part of time management training workshops. Very useful techniques you bring to life.

    1. These types of workshops must be really useful to increase efficiency! Thank you!

  5. I love using bullet lists in combination with a, sort of general, time-blocking weekly schedule (this helps me ensure that I keep moving from task to task throughout the day and not spend too much on one particular task). I do love including things like working out and drinking water in my list, even though they aren’t work related! Crossing things off my list is very satisfying! haha

    1. It really is, haha! I generally love finishing one thing before I move on to the next, but I see what you mean!

  6. To-do lists are my fave! I also like to keep a “done” list showing everything that I’ve gotten accomplished for those days when I feel totally behind 🙂

    1. Love the idea! I’ll have to try it out for motivation. 🙂

  7. I’m so bad at making to-do lists but whenever I do I’m a thousand times more productive. Maybe I need to put “make a to-do list” on a to-do list hahhaha
    They’re so helpful! I’ll put stuff I’ve already finished on a list just so I can cross it off. So satisfying. Maybe I’ll start making them pretty like you mentioned and then I’ll have more luck doing them more often 😊

    1. Haha! Yeah maybe that would work 😉 I always either start my day by making a to-do list, or I end my day by writing one for the next day. Maybe you could also try doing one first thing every morning?

  8. Yes! I’ve been using a bullet journal for over five years now and never want to go back to a normal journal! xx

  9. Great tips. I prefer written notes for daily to do’ and apps for weekly reminders.

    1. Thanks! That’s true, I also like to use reminders on my phone for things that I need to remember in a week or something. This way I don’t have tasks on my to-do list that can’t be crossed of. 😉

  10. Great article! I am very list oriented. I find that it helps to clear my brain so I am not as stressed about all the tasks I have to complete. Now if I could just get my ten year old to make them, we’d be all set! Haha

    1. Haha! Maybe that’ll happen soon. 😉 I’m glad you liked the article!

  11. I’ve always been a big-time “lister” as well. Those two tips are so valuable.

    1. I’m so glad you found them helpful. 🙂

  12. Loved this post! I always get so nervous about forgetting things that really need to be done. I usually just scribble them on a random piece of paper, but it makes much more sense to sit down and put some thought into all the tasks that need to be done. I like that you pointed out the structuring of things to do, and the color coding. I have never really thought about how helpful this can be for our brains to be more productive and stay motivated. 😊

    1. Thanks. 🙂 I guess that the stress about forgetting to do things is what got me into to-do lists in the first place. And I really hope that structuring your to-do lists will help you as much as it helps me!

  13. Thanks for sharing! You really do love to do lists haha! You make some interesting points, I struggle with to do lists sometimes as mine are usually too long!

    1. I really do, haha! I feel like to-do lists work best if they have a maximum of one “complicated” task on them and a bunch of easy things that don’t take long. Maybe that could help with keeping them shorter?

  14. Great post! I think number 5 resonates with me the most–I always feel the pressure of impending deadlines and projects, but writing them down and prioritizing them makes for a quicker finish! Once those are tackled, I can take on anything, haha. Thanks for sharing these tips 🙂

    1. I’m happy you liked it! I get that, too – it’s so easy to spend all your time on deadlines and urgent stuff and never get to do some important things!

  15. Great article. To do lists have honestly saved me. Without them, I get NOTHING done. I’m an unorganized mess. I also totally agree with number 8! Even if my writing is sloppy, I have a hard time referencing it! Keeping things neat and attractive is crucial for success!

    1. I’m the same, haha! When I don’t have my to-do lists I don’t get anything done. And seeing something on my to-do list that I wrote down in a hurry and having no idea what I meant is the worst. 😉

  16. Thanks for the tips! I’m going to try these out 😁

    1. Let me know how they work out for you! 🙂

  17. I guess I need to hurry and get some of my to-do lists going! 🙂

    1. I hope they’ll work as well for you as they do for me 😉

  18. That is such a great post! I really like your tips on how to make to-do list work. My biggest problem usually is that my lists are not very clear and kind of scattered all over the place. But recently I’ve been trying to use a short to-do list for my main tasks of the day, so in the morning I write no more than 5 things that are the most important and i make sure to cross them off by the evening. I find that having more items on my list make me less focused! So I totally agree with you that is should be clear and not too long to actually be useful!

    1. Thank you! I love your suggestion, it’s a great idea to pick out 5 things to do every day. That way you prioritise and you don’t feel like you can’t get everything done, either! 🙂

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