To Do: Keep It Simple

My daily to-do list has been all digital for a couple of years now. At the start of each day, I copy and paste my list of tasks from the previous day and make changes based on what I was able to get done the previous day. Any priorities for the day are bolded so I can keep an eye on them amongst everything else that I have going on. This method has been really effective and helps me keep track of everything easily.

Before going all digital, I used a daily planner and would write everything out each morning. Writing everything out helped keep important items top-of-mind. This was similar to writing everything out five times, which is how I studied for tests through grade school.

I recently read about a 100-year-old to-do list method that many people still use to get stuff done. It was developed by Ivy Lee who was a successful businessman and pioneer in the field of public relations.

His method is simple:

  • At the end of each workday, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  • Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  • When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  • Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  • Repeat this process every working day.

I’ve been using this technique for a week now and am really pleased with the results. I still use a master list that is digital but then write out the six most important tasks for each day on a sticky note. It’s very satisfying to pick up a pen, cross off an item and get started on the next task when I’m mainly typing and scrolling for most of my day.