How to Write the Most Doable to-Do List

No matter how many productivity hacks you’ve tried, the one thing that’s hard to get rid of is a huge to-do list. When faced with a difficult task (or several difficult tasks), the first steps are always the most difficult. If this is your case, one approach is to keep these first steps as small as possible. I’m talking about small, tiny baby steps. Whenever you get stuck looking at an epic to-do list, it might be time to break it down into the most manageable to-do list you can think of.



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Why Mini To Do List Works

Mini-list items turn even the most mundane tasks into something you could theoretically cross off by gradually increasing in difficulty. The goal is to remove the sense of accomplishment that comes when you cross something off your list, and then use that accomplishment to further motivate you.

This hack actually comes from a depression coping strategy. As with eating during depression , many of us understand how painfully simple tasks can quickly turn into a daunting list of steps that you find difficult to complete. Sometimes a shower isn’t just a “shower”; it turns into taking off all your clothes, putting them somewhere, heating the water to the right temperature, standing up straight for 10 minutes, repeating the movements, making movements to wash your hair, face and body, choosing when to stop the flow of water. water, drying, and then choosing a new outfit, getting those clothes, and so on and so forth.

But you don’t have to be diagnosed with depression to give yourself the same grace you would otherwise need.

Start your mini to-do list

As with the shower example above, often a task that should be one list item starts to feel like 20 smaller items. Use this to your advantage. All of these mini-steps can be rethought as small sources of achievement.

So, if you’re struggling with the very first step of making a to-do list, here are some simple ideas to start your list:

  • Turn “make the bed” into ” get out from under the covers, get out of bed, straighten the pillows…
  • Turn “send emails” into ” open laptop, enter email, hit reply, plan email, write subject line, etc.
  • Turn “workout” into ” choose exercise clothes, decide on the type of workout, listen to a pumping song, lace up your shoes, fill a bottle of water…

This micro level of to-do list items is all you need to get started. You don’t really need to write it all down, but the physical act of crossing off items certainly helps.

One final note: avoid multitasking. Your goal is to cross something out. You’ve already broken larger tasks into smaller chunks, so resist the temptation to combine tasks back into larger items.


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