By: James C. Steadman | Category: Small Business
The top 3 to-do lists. Practical, accountable and flexible; we chose lists covering the day-to-day, long-term and online. With something for everyone and adaptable enough to use in any business, you NEED to be structuring your day to keep focussed. We use the online one every day!
I'm covering what I think are the best to-do lists for your everyday business needs.
Big considerations here were:
Our top 3 to-do lists below cover a simple day to day to-do list, a more comprehensive and long-term to-do list, then finally an online to-do list (one which we use every day here to organize everything we do).
P.S. For the love of god, don't use a to-do list to make yourself feel busy, then pat yourself on the back as you look over it (having not actually done anything useful). Tasks on your to-do list need to mean something for you and your business, leave the small stuff out of it completely.
A Day To Day To-Do List
Neville Medhora of AppSumo
An incredibly easy to-do list to use, Neville Medhora of AppSumo created this one himself a couple of years ago to help him with his day to day tasks.
I wouldn't be keeping a huge log of past to-do lists like Neville does, simply because I've always advocated a paperless office, but I can see the value in keeping your to-do lists for a month and looking back on them at month’s end.
This will let you double-check if all your tasks have actually been completed and the nice little ego boost at seeing everything you've done for the month can’t hurt either.
Pros: Incredibly simple to start using and easy enough to draw on any piece of paper, this is a great to-do list to try out. It will work for pretty much any role where you have set tasks you need to be completed, and it’s great for keeping you focused on a single main task at a time if you use the tip shown in the video.
Cons: Its simplicity, unfortunately, is also its crux. The main issue I have with this to-do list is that it doesn't handle over-arching goals well, which is essential for any project management type work, where you have several projects ongoing which need to be ‘chunked’ into smaller pieces in order to complete.
A Long-Term To-Do List
If you're a fan of LifeHacker or similar websites, you most likely will have seen the 'Bullet Journal' which is essentially a fully fleshed out to-do list & planning tool.
If you're a fan of LifeHacker or similar websites, you most likely will have seen the 'Bullet Journal' which is essentially a fully fleshed out to-do list, journal, & planning tool.
It's comprised of an Index, 'Future Log', 'Monthly Log', and a 'Daily Log'.
It's comprehensive and has great long-term planning functionality once you've learned the system, and works great for projects and archiving your day to day tasks.
Excellent as a to-do list, it’s also a great way to keep track of key questions and events that have/need to happen, so it’s a full planning and scheduling tool in addition to all of the above. Take the time to learn it and you’ll likely not look back!
Pros: You won’t miss a thing once you’ve set yourself up properly using this to-do list, and project management will become much easier to identify key tasks that have and haven’t been completed. The legend system along with the indexing and archiving monthly allows you to quickly find relevant information at a glance.
Cons: Quite complex relative to other to-do lists and with a steep learning curve, this will no doubt put off many. It takes time to learn this system well enough to be second nature, and because of its complexity, you may find yourself stopping before you’ve fully learned its potential.
An Online To-Do List
A versatile online to-do list that offers excellent functionality even in its free version, and it’s the tool of choice we use here at J.C. Steadman for planning our various day to day activities, projects, and tasks.
It works on a system called ‘Boards’. Each board has multiple ‘Lists’, each having a multitude of different ‘Cards’ within them.
For example, we have the Board, J.C. Steadman. It has the following Lists, ‘Ideas’, ‘To-Do’, ‘Doing’, & ‘Done’ (along with an archive for old cards).
Before this post was finished, the card ‘Blog: Top 3 To-Do Lists’ would’ve been in the ‘To-Do’ or ‘Doing’ list.
As a collaborative to-do list, this works really well in practice, and we haven’t had any trouble with it so far. Being quite visual, it’s easy to see what you need to do each day in order to keep on track, but with lots of other lists and cards in your view, it’s also easy to lose focus.
Pros: An easy to learn system that can scale up in complexity if you require the extra features such as scheduling and calendar views, it offers a very visual way to keep your tasks in order. The free option is more than enough to get you started and being an online to-do list, it’s very easy to reference your list wherever you are; if you work in a team, you can update your to-do list in real time and make edits or updates on the go.
Cons: It’s incredibly easy to get swamped by too many tasks and the allure of adding schedules, due dates, and extra checklists within the cards themselves can see you crippled doing busy-work instead of key tasks. It takes a while to learn the system completely, and in an ironic way, because it’s so easy to get started, you may find yourself going overboard in setting up your boards and lists, which makes it overly complex.
A Final Word
You should have an idea of what will most likely work for you out of the top 3 to-do lists we've picked.
I basically use a combination of Neville’s day to day to-do list and Trello’s online to-do list for most of my tasks.
(To be honest though, I'm completely paperless and use my Surface tablet to complete my day to day to-do lists, and I upload a screen shot of this into Trello so it’s archived and always with me.)
To quickly recap:
The big thing with to-do lists is to make sure you don’t make them overly complex! You also need to actively think about what tasks need to get done to make an impact on yourself and your business, as those are the only things that should be going on a to-do list.
But most importantly, the best to-do list, is the one you actually use.
What’s your favourite method for making sure your day to day work gets completed? Please leave me a comment below and give this post a share if you enjoyed!
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I create marketing campaigns for clients around the world. No B.S. and to the point - I'll tell you how it is. I'm a copywriter and creative director at heart, but most would recognise me as a full-stack print and digital marketing expert. Want to work together? Click here.