Design Yourself Encore: To Do Lists

This week’s episode is all about the simplest of tools for getting stuff done: The To Do List. This week Sharon geeks out on the best times to tap into this tool, her favorite 4 variations on the To Do List, and 4 tactics to make sure that you leverage this resource to best effect. Here’s the basic theory, one size fit all solutions simply don’t work. But that doesn’t mean you have to begin every solution from scratch. Sharon offers these templates and strategies to arm you with some best practices to customize your own approach.

Ideas Shared

5 Reasons to Write a To Do List

  1. To stop feeling overwhelmed
  2. To let yourself dream up something ambitious
  3. To achieve something you’ve never done before
  4. To bring your big ideas into fruition
  5. To get stuff done

4 Types of To Do Lists

The Comprehensive List – Whether you write it all out on pen and paper or capture it in an online tracking tool, the Comprehensive To Do List allows you to put down everything in your head in one place. Bonus: It usually lowers your stress levels in the process.

Timeline Map What needs to get done this day/this week/this month/this quarter/this year? Your Timeline Map will tell you. This tool can be incredibly useful when planning for what you want to achieve in your work or business for the year.

Action Planning Tool – A timeline map used in Sharon’s Go Beyond visioning process. Download the Vision Action Plan here.

Index Card Strategy – To build momentum with a particular to do list, write out your to do lists on Index cards. You can use index cards (or post it notes!) to write out both 1) like tasks that you can knock out quickly, and 2) individual items that are part of a big project.

Project Lists – Lay out what needs to be achieved to take a specific project from start to finish. This is especially important for both building momentum and making sure that you really understand what it will take to make a larger project or initiative happen. Often using an online tool makes sense here.


4 Tactics to Make Your Lists Work

Brain dump + transfer – First write everything out and then take that list and move each item into your regular workflow practices. Don’t just leave the big list or things will almost always fall through the cracks.

Segment your list into “like tasks” – This straightforward approach has the advantage of both breaking up the to do list into more manageable chunks and sets you up you execute similar tasks at the same time. Yay efficiency!

Use an online tool to track and communicate between team members – Basecamp, Trello, Slack, Google Docs/Sheets, Asana (et cetera!) all have their pros and cons.Here are the headlines on leveraging online tools:

  • Always be tracking
  • Use it before you think you need to
  • With teams: Use it for ongoing work teams, not for “one offs”
  • Commit to it

Make it fun