Featured Productivity Tool: To-Do Lists Are Your Friend

As a writer, you are constantly juggling multiple projects at various stages of development. Between your client projects, possible a day job, and your own work (writing, speaking, marketing), how on earth do you keep track of everything? Simply, To-Do Lists.

Keeping a list of tasks and action items is essential for productivity. When you write down the things you need to do and keep them in a central location, you don’t need to spend brainpower trying to remember everything. It’s a huge time saver. 

What's On Your Lists?

The trick with lists is to throw anything and everything on them. This includes meetings, assignments, and deadlines, as well as professional tasks and personal errands. 

I divide my list into my projects (writing, speaking, spec articles), client work (tasks, meetings, assignments), biz dev (networking, calls) and freelancing. I also keep a list of planned weekly blog and social media posts, website updates, and outreach tasks (pitches and follow-ups), upcoming events, and personal projects. 

I know what you're thing ... that's a lot of stuff. That's the point. When you get  everything out of your head, you are in a better position to divide and conquer.

Where to Keep your Lists 

Paper Lists: Keep a dedicated notebook only for your ToDos. At the start of every week, write your master list. Then, as each day passes, add any other items and check things off as you do them. And if you do something that’s not on the list, add it and check it off so you get that burst of satisfaction. The reason I say check things off, rather than cross them out, is that way you can track your accomplishments throughout the week. 

Digital Lists: Use the same concept as the paper lists. Just use a dedicated word-processing document - or Google doc - rather than a central notebook. I like the simplicity of this method, although you can also use an online task management tool such as Trello. 

Calendar Lists: This is the method I use. Every week (on Sunday night) I make an appointment in my electronic (Google) calendar with my ToDo list for the week, which includes a section for ongoing tasks. Throughout the week, as I set appointments or get new assignments, I add them to the list. Also, instead of deleting completed tasks, I write DONE in all caps as I accomplish them. At the end of the week I copy the list and paste it into next week’s appointment. Then I delete the DONEs, and add any new items for the week. 

Final Thoughts 

ToDo lists are great. They are a tremendous tool to keep you organized and on track with your projects and deadlines. Just remember one thing. Lists only work if you read them. 

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For more inspiration and motivation, follow @TheDEBMethod on Twitter and Linkedin for your #Start2022Now Goal of the day! 

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How do you use lists? Do you do paper, digital, or hybrid? Please share in the comments.

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Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A writer, editor, and project catalyst, Deb works with entrepreneurs, executives, and creatives to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women's National Book Association; host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn, and The DEB Show podcast. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.


Karen Cioffi said...

Debra, very helpful post. I love the ending: "Lists only work if you read them." I've created a number of to-do lists that I never bothered to look at daily. It's so true that you actually have to read them! Thanks for sharing.

Debra Eckerling said...

Thanks for your comment, Karen. That also happens with lists of goals and resolutions, vision boards, etc. When you look at what you are striving to achieve, it gives those aspirations power.

Terry Whalin said...


Fascinating article about to-do lists. I use them and one of the most effective ones I have is on my iPhone called "Reminders." I use it for work and personal deadlines. It's a digital way to keep your list with you since we carry our phones everywhere. Hope that helps someone.


Debra Eckerling said...

Thanks for your comment, Terry! Glad you found such an effective To-Do list solution. That's why I like to use electronic calendars and Google docs for lists - they go where you go!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I use my calendar and alert a lot these days! I actually think it improves my memory! Repetition, I gotta suppose!😊📚🖊
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

deborah lyn said...

Thanks for this helpful post, Debra!
I love To-Do Lists--I too include all on it! I started including a daily 'gratitude list' a few months ago - it's great.

Debra Eckerling said...

Absolutely, Carolyn! Repetition is helpful for sure. Also, when you write things down they are more likely to stick in your head! Hugs back!

Debra Eckerling said...

Thanks for your comment, Deborah! Fantastic use of a list! Keep up the great work.

Mplcreative said...

I enjoyed your article. VERT helpful!


Debra Eckerling said...

Thanks, Mindy! Much appreciated!

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