How to make to-do lists that get things done ?



You probably already make some kind of lists (and if you don’t, you should), but the to-do lists are particular because they are directly related to what we do. We also spend a lot of time and energy on perfecting them.


Which lists to start with ?

Before jumping to the to-do list itself, it’s better to start with the big picture.


1. List of all your projects

Create those 4 lists:



Prioritizing your projects and tasks are very important to focus your efforts on what matters most.

The Low-Energy To-Do List is a list of nice things to do that are either fun or require little energy from you. It can be reading industry magazines, organizing files on your computer, reviewing your contact lists on social media. So instead of procrastinating, you can do lots of useful stuff.

If you use Idretis, you can make a map called “My Projects” with 3 of these lists, like that:



To indicate the priority of each project “Must – Should – Want – Low-Energy), you can use nodes as categories or colors.


2. List of your tasks (for each project)

For each project, as the “A Must Project” example, make a map with the list of the tasks:



You can also use this map to include some project related material and resources.


Plan ahead

Use the night before or the morning to plan your day and to create the daily to-do list.

Copy some tasks from your tasks lists (and from the undone tasks of the previous daily to-do list) to the daily to-do list while keeping these 3 rules in mind:

  • Must – Should – Want: pick tasks from their order of priority,
  • 1-3-5 (or 2-3): 1 big thing, 3 medium things, and 5 little things or 3 big things and 2 small things,
  • Be realistic: Match your list to your energy and time.





For each day (and even week or month if you want to), create a done list also called anti-to-do list.

After having done a task from the daily to-do list, move it the daily done list.

Also write down things that you did but were not in the to-do list.

The done lists will help you to see how much you’ve got done and to validate that you’re making progress on the right things. It will also give you an extraordinary feeling of productivity and fulfillment.


Extra List

Seth Godin advises in a blog post to make these 3 lists when considering a new project:

  • A list of everything that has to be true for this to be a good project (things you can look up, research or otherwise prove).
  • A list of all the skills you don’t have that would be important for this project to work (things you can learn, or hire).
  • And a list of everything you’re afraid of, or things that are essential and that are out of your control.


Extra Bonus: the map used to write this article

I made a map within Idretis to prepare and write this article, and you can view it here: