Writing Software & Tools

To-do lists – get things done with these printouts

Writers are not always the most organised of souls. Neither are office workers, or people in general. I tend to be one of them. That’s where to-do lists come in. When writing I find it easy to be creative but tricky to get it all done and complete when there are other ideas competing. However, I long ago discovered to-do lists and things such as the time management matrix from Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. But it’s not enough for the day-to-day.

The 1-3-5 daily to-do list and 5-15-25 weekly list
The 1-3-5 daily to-do list and 5-15-25 weekly list

Time management and to do lists

Some people are naturally organised. For everyone else you need a to-do list. There is no right way or wrong way, and I’ve tried several over the years. This is the method I currently find works best:

  • Keep an ongoing time management matrix of priorities and goals. I keep mine as an Evernote note to make it easy to sync and update.
  • Keep an up-to-date diary/calendar – mine syncs with my phone, iPad and office so I know what’s going on.
  • Using the  matrix and diary, each week I plan my priorities and then each day cherry pick which ones need doing. 

With the final step, the weekly and daily lists, I find it best to be flexible but I recently had an insight recently. It was that I had split my work/free time lists as two seperate ones… but I don’t stop thinking about my own goals at the office, and at 5pm I don’t stop thinking about work. I saw this guide to the 1-3-5 to-do system, of picking one big thing to complete before lunch, three medium priority things to complete during the day, and five smaller things (though these often get added to during the day). By combining office and personal goals, I don’t stop thinking at one and it helps me focus for the day and week. And you’re welcome to download them for yourself.

Download to-do lists

As I said, I got the idea from another site, but I’ve modified it slightly. I made the English a bit clearer – I feel that ‘completing’ something is a bit more concrete a term than ‘accomplish’. I changed the spacing and added extra targets – one problem can be that once you complete all the goals it is easy to sit back, so I added targets to push yourself. I also created a weekly version to help with the bigger picture. Here are the lists. Feel free to download and print and share with others:

By Jonathan Richardson

Jonathan Richardson is a writer and the editor of Considered Words.

He's worked as a journalist, writer and analyst for organisations including the BBC and Which? He's also written for the stage in Cambridge, radio and sketches at the Edinburgh festival.

He's now a freelance writer and data analyst.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.