How to optimize your daily to-do list

by Matthew Kent

Having a daily to-do list is one of the most powerful tricks to keeping yourself organized and effective. I think at some level we all know that. But they can also be a trap, letting us hide in a sea of unimportant tasks, all the while feeling like we are being productive because we are “checking things off our list.”

Here are my thoughts on how to develop a killer daily to-do list.

I once heard Tim Ferriss (author of The Four Hour Workweek) say this about productivity-related apps and technology:

This is too true but can apply to our pen-and-paper systems as well. If you don’t know where you are going and what it takes to get there, you can be productive (getting a lot done in a given unit of time), but it is unlikely you will ever become effective (getting important things done consistently).

Ask yourself why you want to be productive, what you are working towards, and turn that into a goal.

This goal should be have a deadline and you should be able to measure success or failure. For instance, here would be some examples of good goals:

-I will start a side business that will be making $500/month by the end of July 2017

-I will lose 15 pounds by December 31st

-I will shave .2 seconds off my 40-yard dash by the first game of the football season

I use the bullet journal system so I have a monthly log where I have a running list of everything I want to accomplish this month. Each day, as I create my daily to-do list, I first check my monthly log to see what pressing tasks demand my attention.

At the end of each month anything that I haven’t finished either gets migrated to the next month or crossed off my to-do list altogether if I determine that it’s no longer worth my time.

One of the most common things that keeps something perpetually on our to-do list is fear. We are afraid that if we take a stab at it now, we won’t do the best job that we could do, or even worse, we might fail altogether.

The thought of postponing it just a little while longer until we have all our ducks in a row and inspiration strikes is so psychologically comforting.

This kind of procrastination is holding you back big time. Chances are, whatever you’re afraid of doing next is what needs to be done now. Put it on your to-do list for today and get it done.

Execution is the game.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to overestimate what I can do in a day and underestimate what I can do over a longer period of time if I am consistent.

If you have many small tasks that need to be accomplished you can have more than four in one day, but I strongly recommend setting a time limit for them. 15 minutes is good for small tasks, 25 if you really need it. Set a timer. Whatever you do, don’t let small tasks take all day.

You should have no more than two “mission critical” tasks in the same day. On days where you do have two ultra-important tasks, especially if one or both are going to need a lot of time to complete, you should strongly consider having only those tasks on your list for that day.

One tool that has been incredibly powerful for me is pre-visualizing my next day before I go to sleep. Each night I set my to-do list for the next day, and then I imagine myself executing it. I imagine myself getting up as soon as my alarm rings, immediately starting my morning routine, and then diving into my first task.

You can, of course, add to your to-do list as needed as the day goes on, but, for me, the ideal is to wake up already knowing what my most important tasks are and when I plan on doing them.

When I think of the day-in, day-out practice of maintaining a daily to-do list, I often think of a baseball season. In baseball, the season is long and they play nearly every day. They play so often that no one goes undefeated. In the same way, you’re going to have “losses,” those days where you set out to accomplish certain things and they just don’t get accomplished.

I think it’s incredibly important to remember that those losses aren’t fatal, that tomorrow is a new opportunity, and that by consistently getting back on track and getting things done you can accomplish great things over larger periods of time. Every day, identify what you need to get done to win the day, and go rack up as many wins as you possibly can.

The reality is, if you have almost any organizational structure at all, you are far ahead of where most people are. If you optimize your effectiveness, you can become truly remarkable.

Matthew is a husband, father, and aspiring entrepreneur. You can find him on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Achieving our goals while meeting deadlines is always harder than it seems. Juggling between work, family, hanging out with friends and other stuff can be very exhausting. At one point or another, every single one of us has wished for a 30+ hour day to get everything done.

The key to success on days like that lies in good organization. We need to determine which tasks need our immediate focus and effort and which can be postponed. Whether you’re a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a stay-at-home mom, in order to get something done you’ll have to deal with high priority tasks first and leave the minor ones for later down the road. This applies to everyone, we need to prioritize.

How do people manage this? Easy, by making a To-Do list – in plain language, a list of tasks you intend to accomplish on any given day. A To-Do list is a great productivity tool for organizing your daily activities. Unfortunately, not everyone uses their To-Do lists to the fullest. There are pitfalls that you need to be aware of.

It may seem that making a To-Do list is straightforward, but it isn’t. Finding the right balance between menial chores and high-impact tasks can be tough. Not to mention how overwhelming going through a large list can be.

At one point, you probably had trouble crossing out some of the entries on your list and stressed out more than you should. For this reason, we’ve prepared 6 tips that will help you improve your To-Do list meet your daily goals.

Prepare It The Night Before

Do you have a tendency to plan out your daily tasks after you wake up? This wastes a ton of your energy and the day has barely even started yet. Many of us do this regularly and this is an important habit to break.

You can accomplish this by planning ahead and writing your To-Do list the night before. Take a few minutes before you go to sleep and go through everything you need to do. This way, you can hit the ground running the next morning with a clear agenda in mind. A recent study has even shown that prepping your list the night before can even help you sleep better to tackle your list the next day.

No need to waste time in the morning figuring out what to do next.

Keep it simple

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Crossing out ten or more things out of the list is not realistic. At least, not in a 24 hour day, and that’s how much time we have. Not being able to get all your tasks done can seriously hinder your productivity and make you feel bad.

Our advice – don’t overdo it. Keep your list simple, no need to make it a mile-long list. Exclude the easy-to-complete tasks that require almost no effort – as we stated before prioritization is of the utmost importance.

Hence, if your list has more than five things on it, you’re doing it wrong. Trim down your list to five most important tasks that will drive you closer to your goal and give it your best to check them off before the day ends.

Tackle The Biggest Task First

Your productivity and energy levels are not consistent throughout the day and your list should reflect this. Be strategic. Don’t waste your time and energy on low-impact tasks. Organize your list in such a way that the biggest and most important tasks are prioritized at the top and deal with them first before mowing down the list.

How do you determine what a “big and important” task is? Ask yourself this: “ If I get only one thing done today, what task will make me feel most accomplished ?” Another way to go about it is to determine which tasks on your list are important versus those that are urgent .

For sure, you might feel accomplished if you’ve managed to take your clothes to the dry cleaner. Nonetheless, you’ll agree it’s a meaningless accomplishment compared to, let’s say making sure that your company meets an important deadline.

Clearly, the latter bears more importance and has more impact on the bigger picture.

Use TechnologyHow to optimize your daily to-do list

If you’re that faithful pen & paper type of person, it might be time to consider switching to a more feature-rich solution – smartphone apps . Yes, there is something satisfying in crossing off an entry from the To-Do list with a pen, but now, there are all sorts of apps that can take your task management to a whole new level.

After all, people are dependent on their mobile devices more than ever. We always have them by our side, why not make the most of them?

Here ’ s our round-up of To-Do list apps that will facilitate your agenda-completing tasks wherever you are:

  1. Todoist (Free, Premium $31.99/year) – Todoist is a productivity app that allows you to create tasks and organize them as per your liking on any device. You also get filters and labels to further tweak your task organization. Keep in mind, if you want reminders and notifications, you’ll have to get a premium account.
  2. Wunderlist (Free, Premium $4.99/month) – Wunderlist is an easy-to-use, cross-platform To-Do list Manager. It enables you to create lists, share them with others, set reminders, and assign tasks to team members among other useful features.
  3. Remember the Milk (Free, Premium $39.99/year) – Don’t let the name fool you, Remember the Milk is another great app for To-Do lists and , in fact, it has been around longer than Todoist and Wunderlist. The app allows you to save and organize your To-Do lists hassle-free.

Remember one thing, your willpower is the one thing that will drive you forward to get things done. Apps are just the tools to use along the way. Our suggestion is to pick one app and stick with it.

Review & Edit It

We live in a fast-paced world and our priorities can change in a heartbeat. For instance, you might come to work with clear tasks you need to get done in your mind. But, this can change at any moment. One unpredictable occurrence is all it takes to disrupt your plans.

You shouldn’t stick blindly to your list if a “bigger” matter emerges, requiring your immediate attention. Don’t regard your daily schedule as set in stone. Review it throughout the day and make adjustments to it if necessary.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Ask yourself: “ Is there something I could’ve done differently/efficiently ?” If yes, note it down on your To-do list for tomorrow and do it. By doing so, you’ll get a better understanding of your workflow and eventually, improve your organization.

A well-crafted To-Do list will guide you through your day. Hopefully, these productivity tips will help you out the next time you start making your daily plan. Bottom line, it’s all about what works best for you – try out different methods to find the planning system that delivers the highest productivity level.

Do you have a handy tip that should be included in the list? Did you find this article helpful? Let us know in the comments section below.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

If you are used to writing to-do lists every day you probably won’t make it through the day without one. To-do lists are a great way to plan your day. They are an awesome guideline and tool to keep up with all the tasks you have to get done. To-do lists can definitely boost your efficiency and motivate you. Every time you finish a new task you can check it off your list. We all know how great the feeling is once you finished the whole list at the end of the day.

Now, the best part about to-do lists is that they are easy to create. However, what many people don’t know is that creating a realistic yet efficient to-do list is quite hard. Here are some tips how you can optimize your daily to-do list to finish all of your tasks every single day and feel great about your accomplishments.

Write Down Small Tasks

Take one big tasks and divide it into three or four small tasks. This way, you will have more to tick off your list. This will keep you motivated and you will like you have accomplished more.

Structure Your Tasks

Always start your to-do list with simple tasks. After that, write down the harder tasks and ideally you should finish your day with easy tasks again. If you start your day with the hard tasks you might lose your motivation or worse, you will feel overwhelmed. You wouldn’t start your run with a sprint right? You would warm up first. Keep that habit at work. It will help you start your day right.

Plan How Much Time You Will Spend On Every Task

This will help you keep your to-do list realistic and avoid planning too much for the day. Most of the times, we tend to be very optimistic when we write our to-do lists. Keep in mind that your time at work is limited. You can’t do everything in one day. Know what to write on today’s list and keep the rest for tomorrow and the day after that.

Include Time Buffers

Avoid planning every minute of your day. Instead create time buffers in case something comes up. You never know if there will be an unexpected meeting/phone call or an urgent task that needs to be done right away. To avoid an incomplete to-do list at the end of the day always keep 1 or 2 hours free. A time buffer can even come in handy if a task takes longer than expected. In that case, you will still be right on schedule.

Measure Your Performance

Keep track of your accomplishments. Use a time tracking tool to save all of the tasks you’re completing every day. This will gave you the perfect opportunity to look at your overall performance at the end of the week. There are weeks when you work better and there are weeks when you aren’t as efficient as you would like. That’s normal. The important thing is to be aware of your performance to be able to improve it.

Reorganize Tasks If Something Unexpect Comes Up

Sometimes, unexpected things happen. Things that not even your time buffers can cover. In that case it is okay to reorganize your to-do list and postpone certain tasks to the next day or the day after that.

Plan the Next Day

Try to write your to-do list for the next day ten minutes before leaving work. You won’t have to worry about scheduling your tasks the next morning and you can directly start with completing your tasks.

As you can see, to-do lists are more complex than most people think. It might take 5-10 minutes to write them but once you have structured your tasks properly, written down how much time each of these tasks will take and even included time buffers in case something unexpected happens you’re good to go.

Once you have your ideal to-do list the next step is to track your performance to see if the time you’ve planned for your tasks equals the amount of time it took you to complete them. For this, you should check out the project time tracking tool TimeTrack.

TimeTrack is a great tool for employees and companies looking for a way to keep up with their efficiency and performance at work. You can set it up in just a few minutes and keep track of all your projects.

If you want to keep up with your strenghts as well as weaknesses to improve your planning skills TimeTrack is the solution you are looking for. Are you ready to try it out? Learn more about TimeTrack.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Zeitmanagement ist für Unternehmen, egal ob klein oder groß, ein wichtiges Thema. Als ausgebildete Betriebswirtin und jahrelange Expertin bei TimeTrack setze ich mich täglich mit dem Thema Zeiterfassung auseinander. Die Tipps und Tricks, die ich in dem Bereich entdeckt habe möchte ich Ihnen weitergeben.

Außerdem schreibe ich gerne über meine Erfahrungen im Projektmanagement. Dabei lege ich viel Wert auf Team Management, überschaubare Arbeitsprozesse und transparente Kommunikation – meiner Meinung nach die Grundlagen für jedes erfolgreiche Projekt.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

John Gruber

Jan 27, 2018 · 5 min read

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Microsoft To-Do is one of the latest apps to be included in Office 365. It’s a simple to-do list that makes it easy to plan your day. Whether it’s for work, school or home, To-Do will help you increase your productivity and decrease your stress levels. To-Do has a unique way to organize your tasks into lists, then combining those lists into a My Day view to clear the clutter and keep you organized.

The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists — Umberto Eco

To-Do syncs with your phon e and computer, so you can access your to-dos from anywhere in the world. You can quickly add, organize and schedule your to-dos while you’re on the go.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Unfortunately, this latest addition to Office 365 is still in its infancy lacking many features we can expect shortly. Microsoft has stated To-Do will replace Wunderlist once To-Do has all the features of Wunderlist. For more information, take a look at my interview with Senior Product Manager of Microsoft To-Do, Simon Chan.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them — David Allen

How to optimize your daily to-do list

David Allen is the master of to-do lists and has dedicated his life to helping people apply order to chaos and get more done. Every to-do app has two goals: improve productivity and relieve stress. Microsoft To-Do has a flexible design. Create lists for longer tasks that need multiple steps and dump the rest into the ‘To-Do’ list.

2. Prioritize Daily

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. — Francis of Assisi

Microsoft To-Do has a unique design based on My Day. The My Day view is used to clear the clutter from your list of today’s actionable items. Start every day by reviewing your lists and moving priority tasks to the My Day list. The My Day list is the heart of Microsoft To-Do and what makes it truly unique. It’s designed around clearing the clutter and prioritizing what’s important for the day.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Get the master of arithmetic to show you how to square a triangle. — Leonardo Da Vinci

How to optimize your daily to-do list

In Leonardo Da Vinci’s 500-year-old to-do list there were a ton of to-do items where he planned to ask others how things work. Leonardo’s relentless pursuit of knowledge is a lesson for us all. Unfortunately, Microsoft To-Do doesn’t have the ability to share tasks. Microsoft is pitching To-Do as the latest evolution of Wunderlist, as such, they have promised to add all of the features of Wunderlist. Sharing tasks with others is coming soon!

Security & Compliance is where Microsoft To-Do stands apart. Under Satya’s leadership, Microsoft has been focused on the enterprise and that means security and compliance everywhere. Microsoft To-Do integrates directly into Outlook tasks so the security and compliance features of your Exchange Online mailbox are built right into the new app.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. — Maya Angelou

How to optimize your daily to-do list

We all have life goals. From getting more organized to finding more time to annoy our wives. Put all of these long-term goals in a list and review them daily, weekly, or monthly. When possible, create a to-do item to get yourself closer to your dreams. With the To-do app, you can create reoccurring reminders to help remind you to take small steps to making your life goals a reality.

Microsoft To-Do is still in its infancy. Microsoft has promised to decommission Wunderlist once To-Do has all of it’s best features. Below is a quick list of features we can expect from To-Do in the future:

  1. Folders — To organize lists.
  2. Sharing — To share a to-do list or task with others.
  3. Tags — To help organize across lists.
  4. Comments — To keep more complex tasks moving forward and organized.
  5. Integrations — To integrate with everything!

To-Do has the Wunderlist team dedicated to its development and they’re adding features quickly. To-Do isn’t in the Office 365 Roadmap yet, but you can keep up using

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope you found it beneficial. If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Businesses and organizations are challenged daily to do more, plan more, and accomplish more tasks. Psychologists spend hours studying ways to improve daily workflow, and some of what they’ve found is surprising.

Think you need to toughen up and force your eyes open all day and night? Think again.

Here are some surprising ways you can improve your daily workflow:

1. Stop multitasking.

Working on multiple complex tasks at the same time obstructs daily workflow severely. Your brain can go into overload by switching back and forth between tasks, which will slow down productivity on everything in general. Instead, focus on one task at a time, and don’t let the others distract you.

2. Conquer difficult tasks first.

Prioritize your tasks by deadlines and level of difficulty. If you can conquer the most difficult tasks first, you’ll be able to power through the rest of your tasks with ease.

3. Communicate better.

Communication is crucial for productivity in the workplace. If your team members don’t understand goals and tasks, they cannot complete them properly. Use a communication tool like Namely’s calendar to keep everyone informed and organized. Slack is another great tool to share docs, updates, and ask questions—just make sure you review Slack etiquette with your employees.

Not yet using Namely to improve your team’s productivity? Sign up for a free demo now to start improving your company’s workflow.

4. Use collaboration tools.

Studies show email isn’t as effective of a collaboration tool as it used to be. In fact, employees are interrupted by email every five minutes, slowing down productivity. It’s becoming more expensive and is a poor channel of communication for immediate decisions.

You can avoid tasks and notifications being lost in the abyss of email messages by using a cloud-based collaboration tool.

Namely’s workflow manager, for example, allows you to create detailed tasks and assign ownership. Our intuitive platform enables you to trigger tasks based on multiple potential options. You can also track completions through notifications and manage who can see what.

5. Be transparent.

If you want to make a change, say it. Same goes for your employees. If they have any concerns or too much on their plate, they shouldn’t be afraid to tell you. If you or your employees are afraid to talk about what’s on your minds, it will distract everyone, slowing everything down.

6. Keep your desk organized.

Each day, take 10 minutes to sort through the pile of papers and organize your desk. Rewrite and update your task list. Delete resolved emails. Taking the time to eliminate clutter will improve your workflow in the long-run.

7. Take breaks.

Studies show taking regular breaks will improve your workflow and ability to focus on prolonged tasks. Refresh your mind by making a coffee run or grabbing a quick snack. Recharge yourself by taking a 20-minute walk or stretching every few hours.

8. Schedule a ShipIt Day.

The concept, coined by the Atlassian Company, allows employees to take 24 hours to work on any project they want. Inspiring creativity like this motivates employees because they get to do something they are passionate about. After the 24 hours, employees return to work feeling accomplished and happy.

9. Improve employee morale.

Celebrate holidays, employee birthdays, and company achievements together. Use a calendar like Namely’s to keep track of these dates so you’ll never forget upcoming occasions.

10. Leave work at work.

Some employees take their work home with them because they think getting extra work done at night will improve daily workflow. It’s not true, though. Instead, the employee’s home life will suffer and lack of breaks will lead to increased distractions and exhaustion throughout the work day.

It takes time to stop what you’re doing and recalibrate your plans for completing assignments, but once you remind yourself of the original goals, you will be more effective and improve your daily workflow.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

See how Namely’s flexible solution will help you streamline your HR processes by having your people, payroll, and benefits info all in on place.

  • Personal Success
  • Sales Success
  • Business Success
  • Leadership Success

85% of American’s admit they don’t know how to prioritize as well as they would like.

  • How do you feel about the matter?
  • Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you have?
  • Have you ever missed an important deadline?
  • Or forgotten to do something important?

That’s okay, I have a solution for you.

You see, these are symptoms of unpolished time management skills. All you need to do is refine your prioritization skills and start (or return) to efficiently evaluate your tasks with a proper to-do list.

Sounds easy, right?

But lots of people tend to be surprised when I mention there’s more than one type of to-do list.

To-do lists are key for efficiency because they list everything that you have to do, the most important tasks at the top, and the least important tasks at the bottom.

Get My Ultimate Prioritization Tool: The ABCDE Checklist

Leverage Your Organizational Skills

Your ability to improve your organizational skills and prioritize tasks is a measure of your overall competence. The better the plan you have, even if as simple as creating a to-do list, the easier it is for you to overcome procrastination and get started, to eat that frog and keep going.

One of your top goals at work should be for you to prioritize tasks by using your organizational skills to get the highest possible return on your investment of mental, emotional and physical energy.

Note: If you don’t already use them, I suggest you take a few minutes to read my post about how to set and achieve SMART goals.

The good news is that every minute spent planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution.

It only takes about ten or twelve minutes for you to prioritize tasks by planning out your day and create a to-do list. This small investment of time will save you at least two hours (100-120 minutes) in wasted time and diffused effort throughout the day.

Create Your To-Do List

Put your organizational skills to work and prioritize tasks by always working from a list. When something new comes up, add it to the list before you do it. By knowing how to prioritize tasks, you can increase your productivity and output by 25% or more from the first day that you begin working consistently from a list.

Having such a system in place will make it much easier to achieve everything you desire – especially longterm goals, such as writing a book.

Improve your organizational skills and make out your to-do list the night before, at the end of the workday. Move everything that you have not yet accomplished onto your to-do list for the coming day and then add everything that you have to do the next day.

When you make out your to-do list the evening or the night before, your subconscious mind works on the list all night long while you sleep.

Time Management Tools

Often you will wake up with great ideas and insights that you can prioritize tasks and use to get your job done faster and better than you had initially thought.

The more time you take to make written lists of everything you have to do, in advance, the more effective and efficient you will be.

This time management analysis is the same tool I’ve used to consult with thousands of people over the last 30 years, and now it’s my gift to you.

Your 4 Master Lists

There are four different lists that you need to create for different purposes to enhance your organizational skills and manage your time .

1) First, you should create a master list on which you write down everything you can think of that you want to do some time in the future. This is the place where you capture every idea that comes to or every new task or responsibility that comes up. You can then prioritize tasks later.

2) Second, you should have a monthly list that you make up at the end of the month for the month ahead. This may contain items transferred from your master list.

3) Third, you should have a weekly list where you plan your entire week in advance. This is a list that is under construction as you go through the current week.

4) Finally, you transfer items from your monthly and weekly lists onto your daily list.

These are the specific activities that you are going to accomplish that day. As you work through the day, tick off the items on your to-do list as you complete them. This activity gives you a visual picture of accomplishment and improves your organizational skills. It generates a feeling of success and forward motion.

Prioritize Tasks For Ultimate Efficiency

When you have a project of any kind, begin using your organizational skills by making a to-do list of every step that you will have to complete to finish the project from beginning to end. Prioritize tasks by organizing the project by priority and sequence.

Lay it out in front of you on paper or on a computer so that you can see it. Then go to work on one task at a time. You will be amazed at how much you get done in this way.

Remember that the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule, says that 20% of your effort tends to produce 80% of your results, so prioritizing efficiently is a must.

As you work through your lists, you will feel more and more effective and powerful. You will feel more in control of your life. You will be naturally motivated to do even more. You will think better and more creatively and you will get more and better insights that enable you to do your work even faster.

Master Your Time

When you use organizational skills to prioritize tasks and plan each day in advance with a simple to-do list, your day will go by faster and smoother than ever before. You feel more powerful and competent. You eventually become unstoppable. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and you enjoyed it, please share and leave a comment.

If you’d like the free prioritization tool that I use for almost everything, click the button below to get my ABCDE Checklist .

Thanks for reading this article on how to prioritize tasks efficiently. Please leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to follow up.How to optimize your daily to-do list

Words by Cory Ohlendorf

Your mornings have the power to set the tone for an entire day. A lousy start can derail any good intentions and leave you feeling overwhelmed and underachieving. That’s how I was feeling lately. I was getting a bit burnt out and stressed and realized I had access to experts and products to help me. Like any problem I have, I did my research and asked questions. I talked with successful people I admire, along with smart founders and entrepreneurs making stuff designed to get your day started on the right foot. I was curious . could I biohack my way to a better morning? Turns out, it wasn’t all that hard. In fact, the habits I developed were rather small. They seem obvious or insignificant but when combined, they ensure that my transition from groggy, grumpy zombie to energetic optimist is smooth and speedy.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Plan The Night Before

Starting your day without a clear plan means nonessential tasks can quickly derail you. That’s why it’s smart to create your daily to-do list the night before, so you know exactly what you’ve got on your plate. It also allows you to prioritize the tasks. And bonus: once you’ve got all that down on paper (or Evernote), your mind is clear and you’ll fall asleep without worrying about the next day.

Prime Your Sleep

If you want to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day, then you need to make sure you’re getting quality sleep to reap total-body benefits. And not just because it feels good (which it does). Better sleep has been proven to provide a myriad of benefits from less inflammation to a greater resilience against illnesses like the common cold. This all-natural supplement from clean sports nutrition company Momentous was the key to quieting my mind before bed and helping me slink into a deep, restful sleep.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

It’s a favorite among pro and elite athletes because it combats sleep challenges like nighttime games, late workouts, travel, and anxiety, which can disrupt circadian rhythms. How? It’s made with magtein, a form of magnesium that crosses the blood-brain barrier to promote cognitive function. There’s also melatonin, the natural sleep-inducing hormone. The third and last ingredient is wild jujube seed extract, which studies show prompt the release of the rest-inducing neurochemicals and help relax brain regions like the hippocampus. But in short, I pop these 20 minutes before bedtime, fall asleep fast and wake up without any grogginess.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Fuel Up

You’ve got to eat breakfast, right? It’s (say it with me, now) the most important meal of the day. But if you’re like me, you’ve probably noticed you can have your breakfast fast and easy or healthy and sustaining, but you can’t have it both ways. Or so I thought, until I found Brave. Developed as a home recipe by some active guys looking to improve on the “overnight oats” concept, the goal was something tasty that would jump start their mornings and sustain them until lunchtime.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

From $14.50 for a variety pack,
by Brave

The result of their tinkering became Brave, an overnight breakfast made from oats, chia seeds and hemp hearts that provides a powerful combination of protein, fiber, calories and healthy fats. They then throw in nuts, fruits and spices to make them taste as good as they are good for you. All you have to do is mix it with some milk of your choice the night before and let the mixture marinate and activate overnight. Come morning, just give it a stir and maybe a minute in the microwave (though I actually prefer it cold with an iced coffee). It’s the simplest and best-tasting way to down 20 grams of plant-based protein without any added sugar or preservatives.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

From $14.50 for a variety pack,
by Brave

Boost Your Performance

I prefer to workout in the morning, but that’s a personal choice and if you enjoy hitting the gym in the afternoon or evening, I say do what works for you. But I would suggest taking your vitamins in the morning. These easy-to-take pill packs (one for each day of the month) are called “Superhuman Supplements.” And that’s just how I feel when I take them in the morning: sharper, energized and more focused.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Superhuman supplements,
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How? The packs contain five pills. Two immunity-boosting multivitamin capsules, two “white lightning” boosters with ashwagandha and other plant-based ingredients formulated to fight stress and improve your mood, while a single Omega-3 supplement kickstarts cell production, improves cognition and boosts overall focus. The cleverly-designed packets were also handy while traveling. And honestly, on the days I didn’t pop the capsules, my body (and brain) were noticeably a little slower.

How to optimize your daily to-do list

Superhuman supplements,
$75 by Asystem

How to optimize your daily to-do list

If there’s one pattern I’ve come across in dozens of articles, books I’ve read, and the 100’s of people that I’ve interviewed, it’s that the most prolific, productive and successful ones don’t depend on to-do lists, they depend on a calendar. It’s a lesson I’ve learned over and over again in my own work. The likelihood of me getting anything done goes up significantly when I put something on the calendar.

Our lives are dictated almost entirely by units of time:

  • Publishers give authors deadlines
  • Professors give students a syllabus with important dates
  • Google maps gives you an estimated time for how long it will take to get to your destination
  • When you get your car repaired, they tell you what time it will be ready.
  • When you ship something you are told how long it will take to get to the recipient

Given the role that time plays in our lives, it would make sense to focus on managing our time instead of our tasks. Using a calendar effectively can help you tap into the power of one focused hour a day.

The idea that a calendar could result in changing your behavior seems a bit far fetched. But that’s precisely what Dan Ariely and his team at Timeful set out to do when they started the company. Soon after they were acquired by Google and now much of what could be done with Timeful is integrated into the Google Calendar app. In an interview on the Unmistakable Creative, Dan said the following:

Imagine if you have a calendar. And imagine that you say that are some things that get represented on this calendar and some things that don’t. On a regular calendar, things that get represented are meetings with other people. The things that don’t get represented are things that will take 30 or 100 hours. Exercising or meditation. The things that don’t get represented are calling your mother. So what happens is that the moment you have a way to represent things easily like meetings and you don’t have a good way to represent something like writing a book or meditating or exercising and so on, the things that are represented will be carried out and the things that are not represented will not get carried out. And as a consequence, your life will be filled with things that might not fit with your agenda. So the real question is how do we get the representation of our lives to fit our real objectives?

I actually downloaded the calendar app in an effort to do some research for this article and I can cite the following behavior changes:

  • I’ve always been a voracious reader but putting it on the calendar for 30 minutes each day has made me much more consistent.
  • There are interview series and personal development programs that I wanted to go through. Now that I’ve put them on my calendar I haven’t missed any of the days.

Just the act of putting these things on the calendar for some reason seems to significantly increase the likelihood that I actually do them.

Given that time is the most valuable asset at our disposal, it would make sense that we design our days based on units of time. But there’s an additional benefit to using a calendar.

When an event is consistently scheduled on your calendar, it’s much more likely to transform into an unconscious habit.

I no longer have to consciously think about writing 1000 words a day or reading when I wake up in the morning. As I’ve jokingly said in a few interviews the only worthwhile disruptions to my morning routine are sex or surfing. We can also take a page from the playbook of mainstream media. For more than 10 seasons, NBC aired Friends every Thursday. AS a result, watching the show became a habit for millions of viewers.

When it comes to task completion the major difference between a calendar and a to-do-list is that the calendar accounts for time. You’re forced to work within the constraints of the 24 hours that you have. Not only that, given that there are only 24 hours it also reduces the paradox of choice. This tends to be great for scheduling time for high-level creative output.

Reminders, on the other hand, are great for things like paying bills, sending follow up emails and other low-value tasks. The great thing about reminders is that they keep popping up until you’ve actually crossed them off.

I’ve put together a list of interviews with productivity experts who can teach you how to master your focus. Just click here.

One of my favorite features of the Google calendar app is goals. This feature allows you to make time and represent the very meaningful things that Dan mentioned in our conversation like exercise, meditation, reading daily or writing a book. The Google blog describes the goals feature as follows.

Calendars should help you make the most of your time — not just be tools to track events. So as Google Calendar turns 10 today (), we’re excited to invest in more updates like Goals, and to help you find time for everything that matters — from your daily must-dos to exercising more, to just a little “me time.”

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As somebody who interviews several people every week, I have to schedule quite a few meetings. That meant a lot of emails back and forth. It wasn’t until I discovered Calendly that I was able to drastically reduce the number of emails that were sent.

Since I’m asking somebody for their time, it’s a bit presumptuous to assume that they should work around my schedule. This is why I always say “if none of the times work, no worries. I can work around your schedule.” This way you’re considerate of their time and you still have the possibility of not having a million emails back and forth. With rare exception, people happily pick a time on my calendar and it doesn’t take 20 emails to schedule a meeting.

Millionaires don’t use to do lists. If something truly matters to you, put it on your calendar. You’ll be amazed at how much the likelihood of getting it done increases.

Say no to Everything That’s not Aligned with Your Essential Priorities

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How to optimize your daily to-do list

Your attitude determines your altitude. “Succesful people don’t just drift off to the top. Getting there requires focused action, personal discipline and lots of energy every day to make things happen,” says American author and entrepreneur Jack Canfield. And he couldn’t be more accurate.

So, don’t let old habits hold you back. Start building these simple yet essential habits for a happier and more productive life:

  • Create a morning ritual. Maybe you like to go for a run. Or, maybe you like to meditate or enjoy a healthy breakfast. Whatever it is that makes you feel supercharged, kickstart your day with that habit. Establishing a meaningful morning ritual helps you start your day on a positive, proactive note. Having a structured start to your day instead of rushing to make up for the lost time also helps eliminate stress, mental fatigue and enhances your productivity. Don’t know where to begin? Check out the morning rituals of some of the most successful people to get some inspiration!
  • Follow the 80/20 rule.The Pareto’s Principle or the 80/20 rule means that in any situation, 20% of the tasks yield 80% of the results. So you can maximize productivity by investing most of your time and energy on those specific tasks that will create the biggest impact. Once you’ve finished those tasks, you can focus on other activities that are on your to-do list.

  • Read, read, read. Reading books is a great way to gain knowledge and stimulate creativity. Immersion reading also improves focus and has a calming effect similar to meditation. Moreover, reading before bedtime can help you sleep better. Non-fiction books, in particular, are an excellent tool to broaden horizon, develop new ideas and seek motivation. Additionally, they also offer actionable advice on how to overcome all kinds of challenging situations through real-life examples.
  • Learn to singletask.Only 2% people in the world can multitask successfully. While there’s no harm in occasional multitasking, constant juggling between tasks limits your focus and contributes to mental clutter by making it difficult for your brain to filter out irrelevant information. Moreover, according to a study conducted by Stanford University, heavy multitasking lowers efficiency and may impair your cognitive control. This is why you should try to single-task as much as possible. Make a list of things you need to accomplish in a day. Start with what’s most important and make your way down the list, completing one task at a time.
  • Appreciate more. French novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr once said, “we can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race and forget how fortunate you are. Practicing gratitude is a great way to create positivity, reduce stress and improve your physical health. How can you cultivate this healthy habit? Start a gratitude journal, volunteer, take time to appreciate your loved ones and remind yourself of at least one thing you’re grateful for every day before going to bed. The more you appreciate the little joys of life, the happier you’ll be.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” said American author and entrepreneur Jim Rohn. This is precisely why you should carefully consider who you’re spending time with. Let go of relationships that bring you down instead of lifting you up. And spend time with people who know how to nurture and share happiness. Since happiness is contagious, it’s one of the easiest ways to create positivity in your life.
  • Make time for exercise. Other than improving your physical health, working out regularly pumps up creativity and enhances your cognitive skills. It’s also an effective way to build endurance and get energized. And if you’re still not convinced, exercising also elevates mood by boosting the production of endorphins – hormones that act as natural anti-depressants. Still need more reasons to hit the gym?
  • Master the art of listening. Effective communication is crucial when it comes to cultivating personal and professional relationships. And listening is central to communication. Pay attention to what others have to say. It’ll not only make others feel valued but will also help you understand them better and gain a fresh perspective. Don’t try to monopolize the conversation or fake attention while your mind is busy figuring out what pizza you should order for dinner. Listen to what they have to say and what they really mean and take note of the non-verbal cues as well. The more you listen the more you’ll learn. Here’s a handy guide that can help you become a good listener.
  • Go for a social media detox. The digital world has taken over almost every aspect of our lives. The average person has five social media accounts and spends at least 1 hour and 40 minutes every day on checking social media. Research shows that the more time you spend on a social media site, the more likely you are to develop depression. Take time to cut back on social media to reduce stress and mental clutter. Switch off your phone and laptop for a few hours every day to improve your mood and reconnect with the world around you.
  • Invest in self-care. Taking some time off to unwind can do wonders for your mood, mental health, and self-esteem. Do at least one thing every day that makes you feel good. Listen to music, learn a new skill, take a long bubble bath, or prepare a nice meal. Whatever floats your boat!
  • Developing these habits require determination, oodles of patience and constant effort. Maybe it’ll take just a few weeks or maybe more than a year, it doesn’t matter how long it takes to build the habit as long as you don’t give up.

    Now pull up your socks, it’s time to win at life!

    How to optimize your daily to-do list

    I’ve been a digital journalist and writer for the past four years, primarily covering the world of lifestyle and wellness. After completing my postgraduation in

    I’ve been a digital journalist and writer for the past four years, primarily covering the world of lifestyle and wellness. After completing my postgraduation in International Journalism, I worked as a Features Writer at Cosmopolitan India where I wrote extensively on pop culture, beauty and everything lifestyle. I’ve also contributed to The News Hub, Business for People and Planet and OneWorld South Asia, among other publications. Other than that, I’m an avid reader and enjoyer of quality procedurals. When not penning articles or chasing deadlines, I like to bake, dabble in poetry, make DIY craft projects and coddle my tripod cat.