The Best Way To Make A To-Do List And Stick To It (Without Going Crazy)


I’ve made a lot of to-do lists in my life. Probably I’m the kind of person who likes to plan everything.* When asked during the MBTI personality test “keeping your options open is more important than having a to-do list” I STRONGLY DISAGREE. Lists make me feel at peace. When I don’t make a list, I am and uneasy limpet of anxiety and stress and listlessness. (HAHA. SEE WHAT I DID THERE.)

That being said, I’ve had a lot of trial and error with making to-do lists and at last I asked myself the big question: “What is the BEST WAY to make a to-do list???” Because we all get overwhelmed, don’t we? We are all busy people and sometimes our workload is just TOO MUCH and we feel suffocated by our to-do lists. THERE’S GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY. My friend, I think I have the answer to that cosmic plea for sanity. So today I’m going to show you how I make all my to-do lists and some rules that you should follow if you value your soundness of mind.**

*LIKE LITERALLY EVERYTHING. What time I will wake up, how long my morning routine will last, how much time I will spend on every last thing I need to accomplish that day, how many times I will inhale and exhale, etc.

**I don’t mean that in a threatening way at all but if you take it that way *shrugs* THAT’S OKAY TOO. IT’S A THREAT. READ ON…OR ELSE. 




I’ve talked about this before because IT’S! SO! IMPORTANT! I used to be a massive over-committer. I would think of LITERALLY EVERYTHING I needed to accomplish and write it all down on a to-do list for one day. Of course, I would usually end up getting 20% of it done and FEELING LIKE AN UTTER FAILURE for not accomplishing the other 80%. FRIEND, THIS IS A BAD WAY TO LIVE.

A few months ago I heard this bit of advice in a podcast: “If it can’t fit on a sticky note, it probably won’t fit in your day.” AND THAT CHANGED MY LIFE. I started making to-do lists on sticky notes, and when I ran out of room I would stop writing down tasks. It really helped for a time because it forced me to be easier on myself. I could actually accomplish EVERYTHING on my list and not feel like a failure at the end of the day.


Once I got used to this glorious idea of under-committing, I moved on to making lists on a legal pad again. (Because I LIKE ROOM TO BREATH OKAY.) But now I make sure that I look realistically at how much time I have in my day AND I 10/10 RECOMMEND YOU DO LIKEWISE.

For all those things you forgot you needed to do! HAHA. It’s also good to under-commit for this reason: when you remember something else you need to do, you won’t to be too booked to add it to your list. I find double-spacing a good way to deal with this. Because there’s no cut and paste on paper…BUT THEN MAYBE YOU DON’T MAKE YOUR TO-DO LISTS ON PAPER?? Maybe you make them on your computer/phone or something??? idk I’m pretty old school. Paper and pen FOR THE WORLD.

This is a no-brainer, right? PRIORITIES ARE EVERYTHING. For example, “make waffles” is FAR more important than “pick up so-and-so from the airport.” Not all the tasks on your to-do list are equal. I like to finish the most daunting task first. Then move onto the second most daunting. Then the third. Because then halfway through the day you’re not thinking: “Ugh, I’m dreading singlehandedly conquering the planet” – INSTEAD, you’re thinking: “Ah, the hardest part of today is over. I’ve conquered the planet!” < I guarantee your life will be MUCH LESS STRESSFUL if you just tackle the big thing first. And, since you're a list-maker, you're doubtless stressed enough as it is. 


This is kind of like under-commiting, but different. How many times have you incorrectly estimated how long it takes for you to do something?? I KNOW I’VE DONE IT A LOT.* I know you want to be optimistic about your time, but HAHAHA. DON’T. Is posting on your blog going to take 2 hours or 17 HOURS??? Probably the latter if you’re anything like me. So give yourself time for that. Understand how long something will take before you commit to much more than you can handle.

Also: the process of figuring out how long something takes will be a disheartening and stressful one. You will be pulling your hair out and screaming and asking yourself “WHY DID I COMMIT TO THIS SLKFJKAJSKLJ??” And there is nothing you can do except plow through it. Sorry. *gives you waffles of comfort*

*like 70 times 7 every day forever ad infinitum thankyouverymuch


Isn’t the whole point of a to-do list to cross everything off? Yes and no. Of course it’s SUPER SATISFYING to cross everything off your to-do list at the end of the day (using a red pen is somehow even MORE satisfying idk why) but that’s not the point. The point is to make progress. And ANY PROGRESS – no matter how small – is GOOD. A lot of times I want to finish something and I’m not okay with simply “making progress” on it. And that frustration is 100% natural and normal. But it’s so important to see that we do make progress on things. So instead of writing “write a blog post!” on your to-do list, try writing “work on a blog post.” That way, even if you only write half of it, you won’t feel as if you’ve done nothing. BECAUSE HEY YOU ACTUALLY HAVE DONE SOMETHING. Be proud of yourself.


Instead of a “have to do” list, make it a “get to do” list. Some of your work may be stressful, but YOU’RE ALIVE, YO. Find the little bits of gold in whatever you do. There is joy to be discovered everywhere. And beyond that, schedule something fun! I know from experience how easy it is to become a pack mule – existing only to work and GET! STUFF! DONE! And let me tell you something: it’s not very fulfilling. When you don’t feed your soul, at the end of the day you will feel starved.

I cannot say it loud enough: THERE IS NO SHAME IN HAVING FUN.* Read a book, play a video game, spend some time with your siblings or your mom or chat with your internet friends. Your creativity needs a breather. YOU need a breather. You’re a human! Yay! THIS IS GOOD. LIFE IS GOOD.

*WITHIN REASON LOLOLOLOL

Don’t over-commit! Double space to keep your options open! Prioritize so that the hardest tasks are behind you! Overestimate the amount of time it takes to do everything! Making progress is valid! Making time to have fun is important! And I can’t end this post with anything other than my favorite Selfridge quote: “To work is elevating; to accomplish is superb!” GO MAKE A LIST.

How do you make to-do lists? Do you use sticky notes or legal pads or something else entirely? Do you make time to feed yo soul? HINT: you should. Do you over-commit to things? YOU’RE NOT ALONE. Let’s talk about why lists are awesome and make the world go around.

rock on,
abbiee

53 comments

  1. Great post, as usual. I think I want to start outlining my goals in lists now. XD
    When I have a quick to-do list or ideas, I use an app on my kindle called notes and it has two options, one being a check list. You can also change the color of the note. But I think for bigger things, I would use pencil and paper.

    ~Ivie
    iviewrites.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AAAAH THANK YOU IVIE 😊 that's a wonderful idea!! Goals lists are awesome. <3 ah, that's cool! I had no idea Kindle had an app for that! THANK YOU FOR READING DEAR !!

      Delete
  2. To-do lists literally are the air I breathe! I love the idea of only writing tasks that fit onto a sticky note - because I will just keep adding task after task if I have a lot of room, LOL. I love how you said to find the gold in each day and the little moments, because that is where the joy is found, even in the everyday routine. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS *high fives* KINDRED SPIRIT!! yes omg same -- it's very easy to get carried away and over-commit!! The sticky note trick was sooo helpful to me. 😊 AMEN BRO! Joy is everywhere if we look for it! <333 Thank you for reading!!

      Delete
  3. WAFFLES ARE LIFE PRIORITIES OBVIOUSLY!!! I mean who can survive without them! I personally love to-do lists and sometimes scribble them down because i'm in such a rush or when I'm planning for the next day I write in this little mini organiser I have which states 'happiness is finishing a to do list' which is like awesome and true! It's so fun to tick things off you list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES!! THEY REALLY ARE. 😎 Aren't lists awesome?? THEY MAKE ME HAPPY TOO. <3 I really need an organizer of some kind! There are so many cute ones out there I can never choose... :') Thank you so much for reading!!!

      Delete
  4. OOOOOOH This is super helpful!!! I always over commit and underestimate my procrastination and then feel really sad. These were awesome tips!!

    xx Bubbles

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I CAN RELATE 1000000000% !! Aw, I'm glad you found this post helpful! Thank you for reading!! 😎

      Delete
  5. WORDS OF TRUTH WAFFLE QUEEN. Again super helpful post <333 I always look forward to your posts on Saturdays ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AAAH THANK YOU ANNA YOUR COMMENT JUST BRIGHTENED MY DAY X1000000 *hugs* 😊

      Delete
  6. THIS IS SUCH A GREAT POST WOW. I love to-do lists with everything in my soul, but I'd never thought of the sticky note trick- that's really smart. I shall definitely keep ALL of these tips in mind when I make my next list!!! (Which will be in like....an hour LOL)

    Also -"For example, “make waffles” is FAR more important than “pick up so-and-so from the airport.” " <- I'M CRYING BLESS THIS XD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. GRACE ANNE YOU ARE MY SPIRIT ANIMAL I SWEAR <33333 I'm so happy you liked this post, girl!! AAAH *hugs* THANK YOU HAHA :'''')

      Delete
  7. I love lists! I used to not write things down, which lead to me forgetting and missing deadlines. Not the best way to live. Now I just make a really large list montly tasks and I highlight the more pressing matters. By the way, I totally love the feature image!

    ~ Pip

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EEEEP THANK YOU SO MUCH PIP 😊 Lists can be SO HELPFUL omg. I would be lost without them <3 So glad you like the new header!!

      Delete
  8. Yeah I'm one of those people who will make to-do lists for myself before I even get out of bed and then I figure out I need to go somewhere and blah blah blah and then I only have like and hour to do these like 10 things I want to do and then it gets me all stressed out and annoyed. Haha. Awesome post Abbie!

    Nabila | Hot Town Cool Girl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. UGH YES THE STRESS IS REAL. 😅 I hate it when I wait until the last minute to make a to-do list!! I feel so unprepared and aahhh *nervous laughter* So glad you liked this post, dear! Thank you for reading!!

      Delete
  9. LOVE THIS. I am a huge fan of to-do lists, but I have a bit of an over-committing problem, combined with an under-estimating time problem. Yeah. It's a problem but THIS HELPS SO MUCH SO THANK YOU MY FRIEND. You deserve all the waffles.

    ♥♥Megan♥♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU ARE NOT ALONE MEGAN *hugs and cries on your shoulder* The struggle is real!! 😅 I'm so happy you found this post helpful! AAH. <3 YOU'RE TOO KIND. Thank you for reading!!

      Delete
  10. I absolutely love to-do lists, but you're right, they can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. x) LOVED THIS POST

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THEY CAN. MUCH STRESS. :') Thank you for reading, girl! So glad you liked it!!

      Delete
  11. When i first saw the title of this post i said, "gotta read this right away!" because, yeah, i need tips about this entire issue hahahha
    this was extremely useful, abbie!! thanksssss <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, I'm so glad this post is helpful to you!! *hugs* THANK YOU FOR READING DEAR <3 Your comments always brighten my day. 😊

      Delete
  12. YES YES YES. I make wayyy too many lists on my phone. I'm pretty sure at this point I use my phone 100x more for my list app than actually communicating with people. IT MIGHT BE A PROBLEM.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LISTS ARE BETTER THAN PEOPLE LOOLLL 😎 so I approve 100% muahaha !! THANK YOU FOR READING BRO <33333

      Delete
  13. This is great! I love the little post-it note tip! I am going to use that one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. IT'S SO HELPFUL. Thank you for reading, dear!! 😊

      Delete
  14. Good tips! I'm not usually a to-do-list kinda gal, but I might try this! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EEEEP I'm glad you liked this post, Gray Marie! Thank you for reading!! <3

      Delete
  15. I am 120% a list maker and an over-committer and an over-time-estimater and I ALWAYS forget to double space!! This post is tres helpful (also, I'm a pen+paper girl too ... my boss keeps trying to get me to use an online calendar and man, it is not an easy thing ...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YAAAAAS KINDRED SPIRIT!! *hugs* I remember reading a post you did once about outlining your novel and your color-coded lists GAVE ME LIFE <333 *high fives* PEN AND PAPER WINS!!! thank you so much for reading, dear! 😊

      Delete
  16. This actually makes me want to do more TO DO lists! And lists in general.
    Also, SO in awe of your aesthetically pleasing posts!! So many #goals
    <3 <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sdjlsfjFJKLSJDLKJSA YOU ARE SO KIND ESTHER <333333 THANK YOU and eeep I'm so happy you liked this post!!! *hugs*

      Delete
  17. This is such an awesome post! I totally agree with all your tips :) to-do lists don't figure hugely in my life, but I still use them frequently. I keep track of mine using a productivity app called Habitica.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OOooh I'll totally have to check out that app! Sounds epic. 😊 Thank you so much for reading!!

      Delete
  18. Rule #4 has been saving my life lately! I also try to leave myself time like you mentioned in #5--if I have three articles to write, I'll put them down for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Then there's a day in between if I need it to finish the article. I make my to-do lists in a daily planner (I actually have two daily planners but um who's counting?).

    Hailey
    www.haileyhudson.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOUR LIST MAKING PROCESS SOUNDS EPIC. *high fives* I need a daily planner!! THERE ARE SO MANY CUTE ONES OMG <3 Thank you so much for reading, Hailey!!

      Delete
  19. Your posts are GOLD, Abbie! Like that sticky note tip? Needed that :) I'm kind of a disasterous disorderly listless (lol) bean, so I'm definitely gonna need to keep this post bookmarked for future reference this semester. I feel like successful adulting and lists go hand in hand :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AAAAAAAAAAAH *hugs* 😊 THANK YOU LIZ <3 Your comments always make my day 10000x brighter!! RIGHT YOU ARE. Lists are so adult it feels awesome hahahaha <3 Thank you for reading!!

      Delete
  20. I start up school on the 4th, and I'm in love with planners and clean tidy lists. Overcommitting is my worst habit o.o

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AAAH SAME HERE CASSANDRA! *hugs and waffles of comfort* I need to get me some cute planners!! <3 thank you for reading!!

      Delete
  21. I'm a perpetually underestimater of how long tasks will take. You would think that I'd figure it out by now...but nope. Not so.
    I have figured out that I am overcommitted, but my issue is how to cut things? There is nothing I can't stop doing. You gotta earn money. Meh.
    I love to-do lists, but figuring out what is most important is hard for me.
    Love this post! Must work on feeding my soul, preferably not from midnight onwards...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HAHA I FEEL YOU SOOOOO MUCH MEAGHAN. :''') The struggle is real. I can never properly estimate how long something will take me to do...it's ridiculous. ESPECIALLY WRITING. Like...it's so touch and go. That's the thing I usually leave to do after midnight. When I faint from exhaustion I know it's time to stop *nervous laughter* I KNOW!! PRIORITIZING IS SO! HARD! *bangs head on table* ugh. I'm glad you can relate, dude! 😂

      Delete
  22. Wow! Great tips, Abbiee! I've never been much of a list-maker on paper but I do it in my head all the time. I guess I've just been too scared to actually write it down cos I'm afraid I won't get it done! But with this tips, I'll have to give it a try. Thanks girlie! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can totally relate, Ashley!! I hate leaving something unaccomplished on my to-do list... UGH IT'S A STRUGGLE SOMETIMES. I'm so happy you enjoyed this post!!! sflkjsdlkja THANK YOU FOR READING. <3

      Delete
  23. *cries because whyyyyy and hooooow is your header so pwetty* And girl I think this post appeared in the perfect moment of my life because I started school, began to make to-do lists, and promptly FAILED AT THEM. BUT! I am armed with this guide (which I've bookmarked) and I'm ready to tackle my things! I so agree that prioritizing is extremely important -- but if you're like me, you just DON'T want to do the hard things first. I mean, it makes absolute sense that you'd get them out of the way, but like,, I AM A COMPLETE LAZY BUTT??? But I shall work on that!! Love this post, Abbie!

    may @ forever and everly

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AW THANK YOU SO MUCH MAY YOU ARE TOO KIND <33333333 eeep I'm so happy you like this post!!! *hugs* The beginning of school year is always a good time to start a new healthy habit! *high fives* I WISH YOU ALL THE LUCK IN THE WORLD. 😊 And I can definitely relate to not wanting to do the hard thing first. UGH THE STRUGGLE. it's real. :')

      Delete
  24. First of all, yes. Second of all, YES. I adore lists. I have a list for everything.
    BUT
    I also tend to do the whole overcommitting thing. WHAT DO YOU MEAN I'M NOT SUPERWOMAN AND CANNOT BEND TIME??? I need to try the sticky note thing. I think that could really help me and my little stressed brain. XD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SAME!! SO MUCH SAME!! *cries on ur shoulder* YOU'RE NOT ALONE. We really need to figure out how to bend time...like...that would be super helpful GET ON THAT PLZ 😂 thank you for reading, dear!!

      Delete
  25. When I started my bullet journal, I was thinking it would motivate me to do ALLLL the things, so in typical Aimee fashion, I doubled-up on my to-do list in the hopes that I would be able to do all the things.

    I...did not do all the things. In fact, I got overwhelmed and did LESS things.

    I've just now figured out that I need to prioritize and, y'know, give myself realistic goals and not too many of them, lol. (Which seems obvious but OH WELL. That's just me now.) So I've been working especially on making my to-do lists shorter and more impactful than a thousand little things I could *technically* do but probably won't. Sigh.

    Feels Like Hope

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes!!!!! I AGREE 10000% and I've had so many similar experiences where I just feel awful and burnt out bEFORE I EVEN START because I'm over-committing and not prioritizing. UGH. *head desk* I CAN TOTALLY RELATE!! So glad you liked this post thank you for reading, Aimee!! 😃

      Delete
  26. These are such good pieces of advice...and I have really taken on the "progress is good" because I've realized that maybe I don't finish an entire scholarship this week, but if I start and make progress on it, that is success.
    Thanks for this beautiful post!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I shall implement them all! Double spacing is very wise; I do it always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I mean I think I would rather do the easy things on my list first and then the hard things but either way prioritizing is a great idea.

      Also #5 or whichever one was about Progress Is Good. I needed to hear that...

      Delete

Nice comments brighten my day x100000! I read and respond to every single one (and I also give my commenters free virtual waffles, so that's a plus.)