5 Tips to Make Your To-Do List Motivate You

The to-do list is, without a doubt, the most important organization tool that you can have. I don’t know how people remain productive without one, and I wouldn’t be able to get by without my own. In fact, I am so convinced that all you need to make your life more structured is a list that I wanted to take some time to really get into the meat of things.

Here are five tips that will help you to actually be motivated by your to-do list alone.

1. Prioritize Your Items

Make Your To-Do List Motivate You

It is so much easier to get things done if you have already prioritized all of your tasks. But this isn’t just about what needs to be done most crucially, though that is one way to do it if you prefer. You can set your list based on any criteria you like. My favorite is listing the easiest things to do first, and then the harder ones that take more energy.

I get all those easy things done right in the morning, and then I go to the harder ones. Because I know when my energy is exhausted with those, I would be way too tired and burnt out to go back and do the simple stuff. Especially when it is so easy to put off those kind of tasks until later. It all comes down to how you best work, so be sure to customize your list into what is best for your own personality.

2. Break Things Down Into Tasks

Break Things Down Into Tasks

I used to write general things. For example, I would say Go Grocery Shopping on my list. But that didn’t just mean going to the store, it was also about meal planning and writing the list, then getting the fridge and cupboards ready for new food. It seemed so daunting when put that way, so I began to break it down into single tasks. Make A Meal Plan was one, Make Shopping List another, then Clean Out Fridge/Cupboards and finally Shop. I could check each off the list, and that was much more motivating to see myself making real progress than waiting until a large project was done. You can do this with anything, and it makes a huge difference.

3. Make Multiple Lists

A daily list of tasks is not nearly as motivating as a year long resolutions lists. You should have more than one for different time blocks, or just different kinds of items. I have a list for work, one for home life, and one for my personal aspirations. It is nice to have those separate, so it doesn’t all feel like one big chore.

4. Be Realistic

You are feeling good, refreshed and ready to face the day. You sit down to write down your to-do’s, and you know you can take on the world! You start piling on those items, and you fully intend to do them all. But be honest, at least a few are going to be ignored or pushed back to another day. There is nothing more demotivating than an unfinished list of tasks. So be realistic, and if you aren’t 100% sure you have the time, energy or just inclination to finish something, don’t promise yourself that you will. It will throw off your entire day.

5. Make Every Item Start With An Action

To-do list

This is just one of those little tricks I have found works for making a good to-do list. Every beginning work should be a verb, conveying an action. Wash Dishes rather than Get Dishes Washed, for example. It is a good way to give everything you need to do a sense of urgency and energy, while telling your brain exactly what needs to be done. Something about tasks that don’t begin with an action makes it seem less like a priority somehow, and it is more easy to ignore it. The more “punchy” the wording, the more likely it is to kick you into gear. Or maybe that is just me.

Do you have a tip for motivating yourself using to-do lists? Share them in the comments below!

Image Credits: motivation, to-do list, prioritizing.

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  1. Stacie Walker says: - reply

    Hello Ann,

    I seem to find you everywhere online. That’s a good thing:) I simply love this post because it’s short, simple, and to the point. Most of all, these are tips that can be applied TODAY!

    I always enjoy reading your content. Keeps me alert and engaged. Thanks for that.

    To Your Success,
    Stacie Walker
    Woman in Leadership Founder