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To-Do-Lists & How To Do Them

I will admit that I am not much of a To-Do-List type of person. All that structure? All those bullet points? No thanks, not my style. But here’s the thing about to-do-lists…they work. Well, per the Harvard Business Review, they might not work, but I’m of the mind that if you take your to-do-list seriously and you WANT to have a to-do-list, then yours can work too! How do I know this? Because I started doing one, and miraculously it allowed me to get more done in a shorter time, kept me stress-free (ish), and made me feel better about the work I was getting accomplished. Clearly, I’m not the only one who believes in to-do-lists, and thinks there are always ways to make yours better, but for today’s blog post I’m going to tell you a story…a story of Logan’s First (Finally) To-Do-List. #FFTDL

It starts with a legal pad…

Yeah...not great
Yeah…not great
Long journeys begin with a single step…or something like that. As you can see, there are multiple problems and issues with my first shot at a to-do-list. First, it’s just a page in my legal pad. The legal pad I use every day…multiple sheets…flipping back and forth. See the problem? It’s too casual. Too easy to get lost among the hundreds of other legal pad pages used for notes, interviews, phone calls, etc. If I can’t take the CREATION of my to-do-list seriously, how am I going to take the COMPLETION of my list seriously? Lessons Learned After Try #1
  • Make it something special – Not just more scribbles on a piece of paper.
  • Legal pads are great for lots of things. Just not to-do-lists.

…And moves to stickies

Alright. Getting closer...
Alright. Getting closer…
Okay, so we’re getting a little bit closer to what we need for a good to-do-list. It’s still a little casual, but sometimes casual can be good. As someone that doesn’t particularly like order and guidelines, a to-do-list can be a scary proposition. Keeping it casual can help you keep SOME of the messiness that you prefer in life, while still allowing you to get your stuff done. Lessons Learned After Try #2
  • Dates are good! They keep you more in line with WHEN you should be doing something.
  • Casual is okay. Messy can be comfortable, so baby steps here…
  • Detail is key. Without it, why are you writing this stuff down?

Not Perfect, But Good Enough

A Helpful Mess
A Helpful Mess
So this is my finished to-do-list process…for now. It’s still messy, it’s still hand-written, and it’s the best way for me to keep a list of things that are done and need to be done. Each week I tape my blank white paper (not a legal pad sheet) to my cubicle wall with the dates nice and obvious up there at the top. Each week I cross things off as I complete them. At the end of the week, I write my to-do-list for the next week and replace. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Lessons Learned After Try #3
  • Time stamps are VERY important. Having the month above and the weekdays to the side really help me break down tasks in a clear, comprehensible way.
  • Hand-writing helps remember items and feels like I’m more connected and involved with the tasks necessary.
  • Get those scratches going. When you complete something, it feels good. Scratch it like a lotto ticket and reward yourself.
So there you have it, my journey from No Way, No How Mr. To-Do-List to Hey, To-Do-Lists Are Okay! I’ve been using this finished system for about a month now, and it helps keep everything under control in a busy freight world. Sure, it might be a bit messy for most tastes, but I think to-do-lists should be unique and helpful for each individual person. There are thousands of sites out there with tips on how to complete your to-do-lists, but ultimately, it really comes down to you completing the tasks at hand, whether you want to or not. There’s not ONE way to write, just as there’s not ONE to-do-list format. To think differently is silly. I’ve used the above format to complete a handful of recent blogs like ones on standard pallet sizes or even exploring the great program Buzzstream. And guess what? I even used my to-do-lists to complete my “to-do-list blog.” Pretty meta, right? So, how does YOUR to-do-list look?

Logan Theissen

Logan is a Content Marketing Associate at FreightPros in charge of social media and content creation. He has a writing degree from the University of Oklahoma, but lives life on the edge and resides in Longhorn country. He loves Murakami books, Tarantino movies, and Vonnegut books. Lots of books. One day he will own a dog, but first he'll have to get a yard.

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