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To-do lists: Why do we have them?

To-do lists: Why do we have them?

So, why do we have to-do lists? You will recognize the feeling: you’re extremely busy and your action list continues to grow. When you are an entrepreneur, you need to deal with quite a number of issues: administration, networking, keeping your clients happy, and when your business starts growing possibly also personnel. Your action items are on post-its, on a notepad, in your agenda and in your smart phone. Do you know that feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day, when you can see the progress you made with your list? 

Especially if there were some very important tasks that really needed to be done? Or the ones that you were not very to eager to do? Make your To Do a Done! How can you check off more of your tasks? In other words: how can you increase your productivity? The answers to these questions are in this blog.

Ritual or Method

How do you keep track of the things you need to do today and tomorrow? An excellent way to clear your head is to make use of lists. It reminds you of stuff your shouldn’t forget. They create order and structure, and let you hold on to something during the day. Although some days it works better than others. To make it easier on yourself, it is useful to work according to a certain method to keep track of your to-do’s. It can be a ritual you created yourself, or you can follow a training about a certain method. An example of your own ritual could be:

Your own ritual

If you are not interested in official methods for this subject, try to figure out how to create a structure for yourself, when it comes to your to-do list. An example of your own ritual could be:

  • You sit down after dinner and establish the things you would like to accomplish the next day.
  • At the end of your morning, you check the progress of your action items and determine which ones you will definitely finish today.
  • Before the end of your working day, you make sure your list is updated. This gives you a good place to start to work on your planning for tomorrow, again after dinner.
  • Once a week you collect all of your notes with possible action items and put them into one large to-do list. You can use this as your source for your daily actions. As a result, you create structure for yourself and keep track of your to dos at the same time.

Getting things done


Do you feel the need for more structure and hence an actual method? A well-known method is “Getting Things Done”, by David Allen. On this website, you can find the 5 steps that guide you in creating your action list. You can use it to your advantage when you are stuck in the process and need a hand to lead you in the right direction. The Quick Reference Card can be found online as well. It gives you examples of folders (or lists…) you can use to organize your actions.

The 1 - 3 - 5 rule

Another way to make your to do a done is the 1 – 3 – 5 rule. When you Google this method, make sure to follow this order: 1 – 3 – 5, otherwise you will end up with information on how to increase your muscular strength. Also very interesting, but not when it comes to to-do lists. The 1 – 3 – 5 method or rule is very simple. You keep all of your actions on a large list. Every day you plan 1 large action item on your action list for today, 3 medium size tasks and 5 small tasks. There is enough time in a day to accomplish these to dos while allowing room for ad hoc tasks that might come your way. A variation to this is the 3 + 2 rule. In this variation you plan are 3 big tasks and 2 smaller ones. When you go to this website, you can keep track of your tasks online. This method keeps your to-do list very simple.

Kanban? Yes we can!

The last method for now is Kanban. It was originally developed in a factory of a car brand to increase the production level. It turned out though, it could be applied to many other situations as well. The “Kanban workbook; a practical guide to using Kanban” , written by Sam Laing and Karen Greaves might help you. This method visualizes your to-do list, becaue you can see where you are at with your actions, and how you are moving through the process. A Kanban board has multiple columns, but at least the columns “to do”, “doing” and “done”. You put your to-dos on cards and these cards move through the columns, from “to do” via “doing” to “done”.

De kolommen op een Kanbanbord om je to-do lijst te visualiseren.

This is why you have a to-do list

To summarize, when you use one of these methods, chances are you are able to focus more on what needs to get done. It helps you breaking down bigger tasks into smaller ones, in order to prioritize more easily and to be able to take some rest here and there as well.

In short, you have a to-do list to:

  • Empty your head
  • Structure your actions
  • Make sure you do not forget things, or at least as little as possible
  • Take a step back to determine what you REALLY need to do no and what can wait, or isn’t really necessary at all.
  • See and perhaps even measure your progress
  • And in the end of course to increase your productivity

Getting started

So, what is your next step in attacking your to-do list? Do you need assistance with collecting your action items or to set them up in a structured way? Contact Miss Assistant. We can gather your to-dos and categorize them for or together with you. That takes off the first to-do of your list! Contact us today.

Follow this blog, to read how to work on your to-do list, because your ultimate goal is to get more done in less time.

Do you have your own method? Tell us about it in the comments . We cannot wait to read them! 


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