Although I tend to preach the wonders of using multiple to-do lists, organizational methods, planner apps… I sometimes forget that there’s a lot of people out there that, for some reason, don’t spend entire afternoons learning about Bullet Journals or Time Blocks. There are actually people out there that only need one to-do list, you are probably one of those people. But still, I would say that if you do have only one to-do list, you still need some sort of approach to organize all of your tasks. And so, today, instead of the usual preaching, I’ll just leave a couple of innocent suggestions of how you can organize your one and only to-do list.
The One and Only List
Simplicity can sometimes attract complexity. The problem when having only one to-do list is that, although it can definitely make your life easier, if you are not careful, you can easily find yourself lost and overwhelmed — even before your list. It’s better if you write your tasks down in a specific way so you don’t get lost and can actually take advantage of having a list.
The question that you might have now is: which way is the best for me? Well, I wish the answer was simple. There are practically limitless ways for you to compile tasks in one single list. And every style is unique and can be easily adaptable to your needs.
I’ve compiled a list (which is very appropriate) of four different approaches you can take when organizing your to-do list. You can pick one style or even combine a couple. And you can do this using whatever medium you are most comfortable with, whether it is an app or a planner. Everything is up to you to decide. The goal is to structure your to-do list in a way that works for you and makes your life easier.
The Handwritten List, a classic
Everyone probably has a handwritten list somewhere around their home or workplace, maybe even lost in their bag. Most of the time, this style is just used for people to put their thoughts out there, so they don’t forget about it later, like a shopping list or a post-it reminder. It’s a quick and accessible approach to list-making, although rather trivial. It’s a very short-lived medium and not exactly intended for higher levels of planning.
The Calendar, being time-focused
Now, I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. You use a calendar structure to write down your tasks. It’s a flexible style, and nowadays, there are several time management methods you can choose from, like Time Blocking or Bullet Journal. You can choose to compile your tasks daily, weekly, or monthly — maybe even yearly if you are brave enough. I enjoy this style of lists because, since I tend to feel overwhelmed by my amount of tasks, putting them on a time frame helps me feel more organized and focused. With a calendar type list, you only need to concentrate and tackle those tasks planned for that specific time, without having to worry about the other ones.
The Categories Collection, divide to conquer
If putting deadlines on your tasks doesn’t work for you, you always have categories. Basically, instead of having several to-do lists like me, you can just have one list that is divided by different categories. How you divide and come up with the categories is totally up to you. You can choose to go with work or business-related themes, or more, you can go more personal like “things to buy” or “movies to see.” By categorizing your tasks, it makes your list look like it has a propose, and it’s not just a bunch of random tasks. With the right structure, this style can be beneficial for you to be more efficient since it can help you to quickly find and focus on a specific theme or task.
The Prioritization method, focus on what’s important
This is the one style that I think a lot of people understand the concept and its importance, but usually, they fail to do it properly. Writing down your tasks in order from most to least urgent can be extremely useful if done correctly. However, the challenge most people face is if they can actually follow the prioritization order they set up, especially when encountering a more challenging task. It’s a strict process, and it takes accountability to actually develop it, but it can generate great results to your productivity in the long run.