To-Do List Template
A to-do list is simply a list of things you need to accomplish during a day, week, month, etc. Generally speaking, anything you put on a list of paper or on your phone notes might be considered a to-do list. However, will a list like that work and be useful for you? Will a list like that perform its main job?
One way or another, all of us have practiced to-do list creation. We would write down everything we need to do and then try to stick to the list. Unfortunately, those lists and what we actually need to do are often disconnected. So, instead of assisting us to be effective, they lead us astray and distract us from what is really important.
There are certain tricks and ways to turn a list full of gibberish into something that actually works and helps you finish your tasks, and we gathered all of them for you. Combined with the xTiles To-Do List template, they will help you turn your to-do list into the most useful tool.
Let's check what a to-do list is, how it works, and what effect it may have on your life if done correctly.
What is a To Do list, and what can't be a to do list?
Everyone has their own interpretation of what a to-do list is. For some, it will be a sticky note on their monitor. For some, it will be a list on their fridge door, and for others, it will be a quick note on their palm or forearm. All of those have the right to be called a list of to do. However, none of those can be a to-do list that works.
There is also a mixed-up understanding of what a to-do list should be. We normally use to-do lists to deal with something we don't like. They are supposed to help us concentrate and buckle up to get things done as quickly as possible. And putting on the list the activity we adore, like “to take a nap”, “to go to movies”, etc., might feel like cheating.
So, what should be on the list? Anything important and relevant for you at the moment that has an impact on your output. Surely, you better not put stuff that can't bring you any advantage yet will drain you emotionally and be unhealthy on all levels.
There are certain criteria for to do's lists to be effective. Let's check each of them.
- It has to be organized regarding your most important tasks.
If you mix everything concerning your job, chores, and something you promised to your friends, nothing will likely be accomplished fully. Having a couple of lists for different kinds of tasks is better and wiser. You may divide your weekly plans from your monthly plans. For the first ones you may use the xTiles Weekly Planning template, and for your long-term goals you may try the xTiles Yearly Goals template. Or you may divide your job tasks from personal ones.
Sometimes, we add things like “to make a to-do list”, to mark a checkbox easily and have a good start. Even though it's pretty tempting, avoid doing so because you never will see the real picture of what you need to accomplish, and one task marked as done is not an excuse to postpone the others.
A marked checkbox has a huge psychological effect on how you feel about yourself and what you do. That's why a to-do list is such a powerful tool for organizing your life.
- It's better not to be too long.
How many tasks are enough for one day or week? It depends on your capacity, opportunities, and how you feel today or this week. It is totally okay to finish fewer tasks than you did yesterday.
There are better options than having an endless to-do list in your notebook too. Surely, you will see how much of everything you've done while looking for the current page, but it might distract you from what is relevant now and steal your time.
Having a daily to-do list with strong prioritizing allows you to devote all of your attention and energy to accomplishing what is most important right now. It will also be great to finish less important tasks, but if not, you may simply postpone them and try again tomorrow.
- It should be visually appealing.
You don't have to spend hours practicing calligraphy and drawing to make a good-looking to-do list. However, when it's untidy, crumpled, and with strains of ink, it might devalue your current accomplishments and the importance of your tasks.
As we already mentioned, it may affect your performance psychologically. A bad-looking list of to-dos may be less effective and turn into what it should fight – chaos. That's why we recommend keeping your list of to-dos neat. Weekly and monthly lists, unfortunately, tend to pile up additional notes and details you need to remember everything.
- Due dates are important.
Deadlines might be scary, and you might feel pressured, especially if someone sets them up instead of you. However, besides being a huge motivation to move, they also help you better understand yourself.
The first time setting due dates for yourself might be useless.You may need more time to finish something. That's why you need to test yourself and learn how much time you normally need. Also, they may be a great tool for challenging yourself and learning your limits and strong and weak points.
Why are online to do's more effective than handwritten ones?
As you can see, there are not many requirements for to-do lists, so they can be advantageous. Still, many find them hard to follow. That's why online to-do lists, to-do apps, Microsoft and Google to-do's, etc., win over those on paper. They are easier to use and edit (while paper ones are almost impossible to edit; you will need to create them from scratch in case something goes wrong), and they bring many benefits the traditional to-dos never had.
- You can't lose them.
Online to-do lists are always with you, while handwritten ones (especially those written on a list of paper or sticky notes) might be easy to lose or leave somewhere. You may forget them at the office, at a friend's place, or anywhere else you were using them or checking. If the first two scenarios are not that bad because it's only a temporary separation, forgetting them in a crowded place might be the same as losing them.
- You can add new stuff whenever you need.
Only imagine you're on a bus, or in line to buy a coffee, and suddenly you remember something important you need to do. You will have to go over your bag to find the notebook or the needed list of paper and a pen to jot down that thought. You likely do not have all of these things on you. Taking your smartphone (probably, it's already in your hands) and writing down what you need in a few taps is much easier than writing it down on the run.
- You can add additional context without turning the list into a mess.
Online to-do lists and to-do list apps allow you to add as long descriptions as you want. For example, in the xTiles To-Do list template, you may create a sub-document for each task and put there all the relevant information, documents, rich content, and everything you need to finish it successfully.
- Deadline notification.
You can set up notifications to know that the due date is near. You will get a notification whenever someone sets a task for you. This feature will help you not to miss any tasks and finish them on time. That's why bringing your tasks to an online to-do list template increases their chances of being accomplished.
However, it's also good to turn your notifications off if you're out of the office or when you don't want anything to distract you from doing your work.
- Create as many to-do lists as you want.
With handwritten to-do lists, you're pretty limited with the number of lists you can handle simultaneously. Online ones allow you to have as many as needed for different occasions, days, situations, etc., and track all of them easily.
How to make an effective to do list with the xTiles template?
Let's make one together now that you know what makes an effective to-do list.The template we offer you is super easy to use. It offers you to divide your daily tasks into four groups – must do, should do, could do, and if I have time. Such a structure decreases the pressure a short-term to-do list might have. It also allows you to concentrate on what is the most important at the moment and devote your energy in this direction.
It may feel unusual at first, especially if you're not used to prioritizing your tasks or this is your first time creating a cohesive to-do list somewhere other than your own mind. As with any other skill, this needs a bit of your time to solidify and become a part of you.
Besides prioritizing, a couple more secrets exist to create a to-do list that will work.
- Don't miss a thing.
It would be better to write something, get it done, or remove it because it turned out to be less important than to forget what you planned to do. That's why you can jot down your to-do whenever you need using the xTiles mobile app. Later, you can return to them in the desktop version and structurize your to-do list.
- Divide and rule.
One of the reasons why to-do lists don't work for you may be because they are a motley compilation of everything all at once. Different projects at work should have their own lists because they will likely have different due dates, which might make you confuse them.
- Make sure every to-do is actionable.
Your list should be easy to “read”. You just give it a look, and you immediately know what you need to do. That's why we recommend starting every point with a verb. We need maximum action and fewer details because they might steal your attention. That's why it's good to “hide” necessary for successful accomplishment details in a sub-document. You will have quick and easy access to the needed data without being interrupted every time you check your to-dos.
- Deadlines help you keep up with your tasks.
Due dates in your to-do lists motivate you to continue work. Also, they are great indicators showing that a task is unimportant if you keep postponing it. When setting a deadline, be realistic and, at the same time, don't be too demanding of yourself. We're getting a to-do list because we want the process to be stress-free (as much as possible) and easy to track. We need it not to force ourselves to work under constant pressure being afraid of mistakes.
- Don't set tasks that were due a long time ago again.
Everyone has this type of task that is hopeless, but we still pretend we will do it. Please, let these tasks not migrate from one to-do list to another. If you can't finish something, you may think about transferring it to someone else. It may happen that no one but you can do it. In this case, try to set the task differently. Think why you didn't even start yet, or if you have started, why did you quit? Maybe the task is too complicated and requires too much effort and time. You may try to break it into smaller tasks and set them on different days, so you won't need to devote all of your time to this annoying task, yet you will have it done eventually.
- Organize your to-do list first thing in the morning.
Some recommend organizing your to-do list in the evening the previous day, so you don't waste your time in the morning. We suggest you do quite the opposite, and here's why. When you wake up, you know/feel what you're capable of today, so you can set realistic goals. If you set your goals the day before, you might overestimate or underestimate yourself. Imagine the situation, in the evening, you plan big, but then you don't sleep well, so the next morning, you don't have enough energy to accomplish everything you planned yesterday. It's always important to connect with yourself so that you can be effective without harming yourself.
- To-do lists are not only about your regular activities.
Weekly and daily general to-do lists are great, but small specific lists are even better. For example, you may get a to-do list for movies you want to watch, create a moving to-do list to make the process easier, have a to-do list for stuff you need to take with you on a trip, etc.
To-do lists are a great tool to make your life a bit more organized without a lot of effort. You simply write down everything you need to do during a certain period of time, and then only tick what is already done. The process of checking boxes is so rewarding that it's enough reason to start using to-lists on a daily basis.
For the purposes described above, you may try the xTiles Watch List template and the xTiles Packing List template.