10 Types of To-Do Lists

To Do List

To Do List


There are lots of different ways to make a to-do list. Some of the lists are effective and some of them aren’t.  And whether the list is effective or not doesn’t depend on the type of list it is – but what works for you.  Each of us function differently and need a different kind of list to be effective.  So which of these is your list making style?

  1. The Very Small List of Only Two or Three Things. This list consists of only a few tasks and the tasks are items that must be done that day – not could or should but MUST.  This type of list maker enjoys success nearly every day because the list is short and realistic and the tasks MUST be done.
  1. The Very Long List of Things That Couldn’t Possibly All Be Done in One Day or Even One Week. This list includes anything and everything that pops into the list maker’s mind.  There’s no rhyme or reason to it and the items are done randomly based on time available, motivation and urgency (sometimes).  The list maker doesn’t really expect to get all these things done.  He/she just wants to be sure they aren’t forgotten.
  1. Limited Larger Number – Like 10. I’ve used this method a lot.  I get overwhelmed with a long list but under whelmed with a short one.  So I limit myself to 10 things – including routine things like making dinner or doing laundry.  If I happen to get the list of 10 done, I can make another list of 5.  It helps me keep from getting overwhelmed and helps me stay focused.
  1. Lists by Urgency: Must Do, Should Do, Could Do. This is a very common way of structuring a to-do list and ensures that the most important things are done while the less important things are done only if time allows.
  1. A, B, C. This list maker makes a list of a random number of items and then categorizes them by urgency (A, B or C) and then ranks by importance during each category (A1, A2, A3) and then starts working through the list.
  1. Time Period or Blocks. This type of list is made based on the time period – morning, afternoon and evening, for example.
  1. Schedule. Some people make a list of things that need done and then plug them into time slots.  If an item doesn’t have a time slot, it doesn’t get done.
  1. Category. Some people simply have a list in random or prioritized order but others have a list by category.  Tasks are divided into sections like house, errands, phone calls, paperwork, etc.
  1. List of 5 to Do NOW. This is also one of my favorite methods.  Since my schedule is very unpredictable, I sometimes make a list of 5 things I can do right now.  I do those 5 things (usually very small tasks) and then make a list of 5 more.  I do this on and off all day and by the end of the day, I’ve accomplished a lot.
  1. Post-It Notes. Some people write individual tasks on post-it notes and then stick the notes on the wall where they can see them and where they can arrange them in a meaningful way.  When tasks are complete, they pull the notes off and throw them away.

I’m sure there are lots more ways to do to-do lists.  In fact, if you do yours differently, I would love to hear about how you do it or see a sample.  I’m always looking for better ways to do things.

In the meantime, remember there’s no right or wrong way to make a to-do list.  The only thing that matters is that the list making method you use works for YOU!

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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8 thoughts on “10 Types of To-Do Lists

  1. I need lots of lists. I have a list of things that I would like to do when I have time and money (decorating the house, changing my hair color, learning a new language, etc). another list of things that need to be done eventually but not with any particular urgency (usually yearly cleaning tasks like pressure washing outside, cleaning the gutters, etc.) with this list I look at it periodically and move things from it to a new list as needed. And lists for things that need to be done sometime this month, week, and day. My daily lists are pretty short and always things I can actually get done on the given day, same concept with weekly and monthly. The other lists are very long and sometimes a bit day dreamy (is that even a word?). Nearly every day, but at least once a week, I move things from one list to another or cross them off if they’re done. I drive my husband crazy with all my list making, but it’s the only way I can keep on track and not forget things.

    TL;DR: I keep long lists and short lists, each with it’s own purpose.

  2. #2 is what I normally work with. My limit on tasks to be done is a week or two. If it’s still there after that, I either do it or delete it.

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