Office organizing and productivity tip: The importance of a daily to-do list

Whether I'm consulting with a business or individual, the common denominator is that everyone says they have too much to do! Almost every day, you probably hear yourself or someone else saying there just "aren't enough hours in the day to get it ALL done" or apologizing because they just "didn't have time to get to IT today".

The fact is there are a finite amount of hours we have to work with each day. Still, we start off each day thinking we can accomplish IT ALL every day! We have great intentions. We are motivated. We want or need to meet the expectations we set for ourselves and that others set for us each and every single day.

We need to be realistic about what we can actually get done each day. That’s why a daily to-do list is important. Having a clear idea of what we want or need to accomplish on a given day keeps us on track and moving forward throughout that day. Also, moving the massive list of things to do from you mind to your actual to-do list makes them tangible and increases the likelihood you will get them done. And who doesn’t want to check off or cross off the items on their to-do list? It just feels good.

If you think a written to-do list is “old school”, create an electronic one. A to-do list can take many forms – a pad of paper, your daily planner, your Outlook task list or calendar, or the memo pad in your PDA. The secret is to find the type of to-do list that works for you.

To-Do List Tips: 

  1. Make time each day to create your to-do list: It could be at the end of your work day, prior to going to sleep at night, or first thing every morning before your work day begins. Move the to-do’s in your mind to your list. Move the to-do’s that don’t get done today to tomorrow’s list.   
  2. Create a realistic to-do list for each day: Although you might want to accomplish 10-20 things every day, it’s probably more realistic that you will accomplish 3-5 things every day. Start your list with the top 3 items you want or need to accomplish that day and then add items to that list according to their importance (up to 10 items per day). Prioritizing your to-do list helps ensure you are getting the most important things done first.  
  3. Keep your to-do list visible: Keep your to-do list top-of-mind by keeping it visible. Place it on your physical or computer desktop. Place your hard copy list in a designated place where you can see it all day long and won’t bury or ignore it (perhaps near your computer). Super tip: Set electronic reminders that correspond with your to-do’s if you are using a computer or PDA for your list.        
  4. Check off “done” items on your to-do list: Start by working on the first 3 items on your list (in any order unless one item is more time-sensitive than the others) and check each item off as it is completed. This will give you the extra incentive you need to keep working your way down the list.

In today’s world, unexpected tasks are “thrown” at us every day and we do have to be flexible to accommodate changing priorities. That being said, being proactive versus reactive and creating a daily to-do list to follow will help you stay on track and will yield great results in productivity! 

Make it greener: Write your hard-copy to-do list on recycled paper, on the unused side of printed paper, or on the back of your tear-off calendar OR keep an electronic to-do list on your Outlook calendar or task list and keep it visible while you’re processing email. 

Here’s to getting more done every day!  


Lisa Assetta owns and operates Office Assistance Plus and is the office organizing, productivity consulting and green office resource for Tampa Bay. Contact: 813.760.6198 or visit

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