To-Do Lists: What Works? What Doesn’t?

I’m a list maker. And I’m a journaler. And I like to write things down. Sometimes I write down too much. Then I can’t find what I’m looking for. And important stuff gets lost among the not so important stuff.

The topic of to-do lists came up in a business Facebook group this morning and this link was posted. It’s all about getting things done based on whether it’s urgent or important. And what I got out of it is that what’s important is important to you. What is urgent is important to someone else. I’ve got to learn to say no to or delay what is urgent (important to someone else) so I can do what is really important.


And this also reminded me of a system I used in the past that worked well for me. It involved a simple yellow legal pad. As I mentioned above, I’m a list maker, journaler, and I like to write things down. I also like to write those things in fancy journals. Or in simple journals that are neat and artsy. Or in something that’s just special. But, you know what? For actually getting things done, that yellow legal pad worked way better than any of the other planners or journals or whatevers that I’ve ever used.

When I was teaching, there were always things that came up during the day that had to be done. These were things other than writing lesson plans, teaching, whatever classroom activities that had to be done. My to-do list was things like consult with other teachers, calls to parents, reports to write, etc. If it was something that wasn’t routine, it went on the list. As each task was accomplished, it would be crossed off. There were few days in which I had ever item crossed off at the end of the day. There were items that would get carried over. Oh, and this was an un-dated to-do list. I may use the same page for almost a week, depending on what was going on at the time.

When I started getting to the end of the page or if the page started getting too messy, I would transfer the items not crossed off to a new page and start working from there. If I was at the bottom of the page and most of the items weren’t crossed off, I got busy doing what was on the list so I could get the crossed off and could start a new page. Because who doesn’t like starting a new page?!

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