Mastering the art of an effective to-do list

Are you an avid list-maker or do you prefer to go with the flow, having a rough idea of what needs to be done in your head?

List-making has more benefits than most people know and if you learn to do it right, this practice can make you healthier, happier, calmer and possibly even better-off financially.

Some form of time planning system

When you make a list of everything that is occupying your mind or distracting you, you can then identify which items can be delegated to others or done at a later date.

Most people feel stressed at the thought of everything on their to-do list, but if they break it down, they often find that many of the items don’t need to be done today, or even by them at all.

If you take those items that are to be done in the future and put them into some form of time planning system – you will reduce your stress levels, feel more calm and productive.

Here are some pointers on making lists:

  1. List everything you need to do - Break tasks down wherever possible. For example, ‘organise the office event’ can be broken down into a series of smaller action steps like: send out invites, collate RSVPS, organise catering, find entertainment etc. When you break down large projects, objectives or goals into lists of smaller bite-sized daily action steps, you decrease procrastination, inertia, lack of clarity and frustration and increase your accomplishments.
  1. Go through your list and look for anything that can be delegated to others - Put these items on a separate to-delegate list once you have completed your task (make sure you do delegate them as soon as possible). You can remove a large portion of your stress just by doing this.
  1. Be honest about how urgent things really are - Make a list of everything that must be done today. Once you have finished all your list making, put the master list away until tomorrow and just focus on what needs to be done today.

This becomes a daily accountability check list too and by constantly reviewing it, implementing items on the list and ticking them off, you increase the probability of living a more productive life and feeling greater self-worth and accomplishment.


Dr John Demartini

Human Behavior Specialist, Leadership & Performance Expert, Author, Educator, Business Consultant. Founder of Demartini Institute.