7 Steps to a Leaner To-Do List

7 Steps to a Leaner To-Do List

Don’t let your to-do list take over your life! Get control and get more done with these simple strategies.


If you’re like most women, you never seem to get to the end of your daily to-do list. Tasks keep getting tacked on and on and on.

The problem isn’t laziness or lack of organization — it’s just too many to-do’s for one person to accomplish! And if you’re nodding your head in agreement right now, chances are your list could use some editing. These tips will help you trim your tasks so you can knock that to-do list down to a doable size.

1. Don’t Include Everything
You put on your makeup and make breakfast every morning and check email multiple times a day, but those things don’t belong on your to-do list. Cut the fat by eliminating stuff that’s already on autopilot and keep to targeted tasks that require specific attention.

2. Extend Your Deadline
Looking at a list of unfinished tasks every evening could make anyone stressed out — but who says your to-do’s need to be completed by bedtime? Don’t sweat it if you haven’t crossed everything off the same day you jotted it down. Instead, put those items that need to get done ASAP up top (maybe even mark them in red). Less pressing matters can live on the to-do list for a couple of days or even a week, but do have a deadline so they don’t stay there forever.

3. Outsource Some Stuff
Reexamine your to-do’s to see if it’s critical that you manage every task. Maybe grandpa can help with that algebra assignment, or your spouse can pick up the kids after soccer so you can spend the time knocking another pressing task off your list.

If you’re feeling like you need more hands on deck, look beyond your household to see who can take on a chore or two — perhaps a teenage neighbor can walk your dog or you can order groceries online and have them delivered instead of running to the market.

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4. Cut It Out, Don’t Carry It Over
If certain tasks keep moving from one to-do list to another without ever getting done, you might ask yourself why. For example, if a note to call an acquaintance you haven’t spoken to in months keeps ending up on your daily or weekly to-do list, it may mean you’d rather not chat at all. A constant reminder to pick up seedlings for your yet-to-be planted vegetable garden may indicate you just don’t have the bandwidth to make that happen this year, too.

5. Mind Your Own List
It’s not your job to remind your husband to call his mother on her birthday or set up a round of golf with his pals. Trim your list by including responsibilities that specifically relates to you — and stop worrying about what should be on his to-do list (or anyone else’s).

6. Simplify the Task at Hand
You won’t have to add an assignment to your daily to-do list if you figure out a way to eliminate it from the start. For example, there’s no need to remind yourself to pick up your kids’ favorite brand of mac ’n’ cheese after work if you keep your pantry stocked with lots of boxes. Same goes for toothpaste, toilet paper and other staples.

7. Mind Money Matters
Don’t let small tasks become larger by putting them off. If you’ve got a leak in the basement, call the contractor today before that drip becomes a flood — and costs you more time and money. Car making a funny noise? Getting to the mechanic goes at the top of your to-do list, as that “dinging” may be sign of bigger trouble down the road.

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Nice little tricks ;-)

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