How To Create A To-Do List (With Steps And Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 September 2022

Published 28 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Professionals often use to-do lists as tools to increase productivity. Having a to-do list can help ensure efficiency and organisation in the workplace. If you are interested in being more productive and organised at work, you may create a to-do list. In this article, we explore the benefits of using to-do lists as a workplace tool and share steps and tips on how to create a to-do list for improved productivity.

What Is A To-Do List?

A to-do list is a list of things you intend to complete or tasks you want to do. You can write them on a piece of paper or note them elsewhere in the order of priority. With technology progressing, professionals now prepare to-do lists in excel spreadsheets, word documents and even special to-do list apps.

Whether you use it at home or in the workplace, a to-do list compiles all your big and small tasks and gives you a better idea of the things you plan to complete. Having a to-do list helps ensure you remember to accomplish everything. By creating an effective to-do list and following it, you can plan and prioritise your tasks and complete them accordingly in order to meet your deadlines.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions And Examples

How To Create A To-Do List?

If you are wondering how to create a to-do list, these six steps can help you do so successfully:

1. Know your schedule

Before you create a to-do list, it is important to know your schedule and then plan your tasks, keeping both your personal and professional requirements. Most professionals use daily or weekly to-do lists. When you are working as a team, lists may cover a longer period, such as a week or even a couple of months.

Having full knowledge of your schedule can help you prioritise the tasks on your list. You can add more items to your list if you have more capacity or vice versa. For example, if the to-do list involves completing an online course apart from work, set aside at least 30 minutes for each day of the course. This ensures you complete the course at a normal pace without having to sacrifice other commitments.

2. Choose a format

To create a to-do list, start with considering what format suits you best. Whether you want to print your list or want to create it in one of the many online apps, it is best to decide in advance what works best fo r you. You are unlikely to lose an online list, and often, apps have tracking mechanisms to help you measure your progress.

3. Consider your responsibilities

A to-do list can also include your day-to-day activities. For instance, you may require a reminder to congratulate your team for a timely deliverable . You can also mention only your important daily duties if you prefer. For example, you likely do not require a reminder to clock in every shift since that is probably a part of your routine. Recognising your responsibilities according to your priorities can keep your to-do list efficient.

4. List your tasks

Next, you require listing your tasks. Consider starting each item with an action verb whenever you are adding tasks to your to-do list. Not only does this act as a motivational tool, but it also keeps your to-do list simple and organised. For example, if you are responsible for cleaning the office premise, your list may look like this:

  • Pick up trash.

  • Mop the floor.

  • Clean the toilets.

  • Change the office wastebaskets.

  • Straighten the lobby furniture.

  • Sanitise the dining tables.

5. Organise as per priority

It is easier to organise your work life once you list tasks based on their priority levels. To determine how to prioritise your responsibilities, consider your deadlines and the impact of each task. For example, if you are planning to submit a certain report by the end of the day, it may be more important to finish that task than it is to create an informational flyer due at the end of the month.

Often, office tasks have dependencies. You can also decide the priority level of a task by the impact it has on others' duties besides your own. For example, if you write the copy for a blog, but your coworker posts the content; you must complete the deliverables before they can finish their task.

6. Check off completed tasks

After you complete a task, it is rewarding to strike through it or otherwise take the item off your to-do list. This can serve as a visual reminder of your accomplishments and can help measure your progress. When there are dependencies on a task, marking off the items ensures communication and prevents any unnecessary confusion.

Related: Organisational Skills: Definition And Examples

What Are The Benefits Of Creating A To-Do List?

A to-do list is an excellent organisational tool to visualise and plan what you propose to accomplish. You can measure daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly goals with this super productive list. Here are some of the major benefits of using a to-do list:

Stay organised

One of the foremost advantages of having a to-do list is that it helps you organise your tasks according to their priority. Your workload may seem more manageable when you write all your tasks on a list. Understanding the tasks you want to accomplish and having a strategy for the same can help you make time for other tasks.

Time management

A to-do list helps you estimate how long you are going to spend on each task before you move on to the next. It can serve as an excellent time management tool. It can motivate you to work faster to finish all your tasks within the assigned period.

Record and remind

Writing down or documenting your daily duties can help you remember your responsibilities. This can be especially helpful for busy periods when you have a lot of work. During such periods, a to- do list helps check your progress and serves as a record of your activities during the workday.

Self-rewarding

Completing tasks on your to-do list takes time and effort. It can come as a relief when you start to check off items on your list. This means you are making progress, and it gives you the motivation to finish the subsequent tasks.

Improves memory

A to-do list is the perfect memory aid. It is an external agent that helps you remember your daily responsibilities. Keeping a to-do list at your disposal ensures you are working on schedule according to your priorities. Plus, you can always find what to do next, as the list contains your upcoming tasks.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition And Examples

Tips To Create A Top To-Do List

A to-do list can seem simple to create, but there are a few details to consider before you make one:

Take your time

Do not rush into creating a to-do list. Spend time on the planning phase to prioritise the items on your list better. You can even isolate yourself during this stage by going to a separate room at home or a meeting room at your workplace. This way, you can think through the tasks before writing them down.

Note why each item is important

This is an especially useful tip for those who prefer including smaller tasks on their list. Adding a sentence to explain the importance of each task clearly defines every time why you listed it. It also helps to keep you motivated whenever you are tempted to abandon your list.

Set achievable targets

Consider breaking down complex tasks into simpler to-dos . A task that might take days, or even weeks to complete, can seem achievable once you break it down. For instance, writing an evergreen article on the development of artificial intelligence over the last decade may seem difficult. But consider breaking it down into smaller tasks:

  • Perform keyword research.

  • Analyse competitor content.

  • Prepare a brief using your research.

  • Finish two to three sub-headers per day.

  • Proofread and submit.

Delete low-value tasks

A simple solution to ensure efficiency in respect to your to-do list is to delete low-value or no-value tasks from your list. This makes your list more manageable and systematic. It ensures your most urgent tasks are at the top of the list and helps avoid unimportant tasks.

Keep it simple

A simple and concise to-do list is the most efficient. The shorter a list, the easier it is to motivate yourself. Limit the number of items on your list to 10. Stick to simple language and keep the items precise and to the point.


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