The Best Way to Start on Your To-do List Right Now

 

If you’re anything like me you love writing to-do lists, but trying to actually start on your to-do list is like pulling teeth. The longer your list gets the harder it is to actually start and soon you’re just watching hilarious dog videos on YouTube and stuffing popcorn into your mouth.

Oh, that’s just me? Oh, well!

To help you all be your best selves I decided to make a list of the best ways to start on your to-do list that have allowed me to easily and painlessly check things off.

 

start on your to-do list

 

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10 Tips on How to Tackle Your To-do List Right Now!

 

Find a way to create a to-do list that works for you.

 

Do bullet journals make your heart go pitter patter or does keeping track of everything electronically work better for you? There are countless ways you can keep track of your to-do list. Experiment and figure out which one works best for you.

Personally, I love Evernote. You can attach photos, search easily, and you can get it on your computer and your phone. You can even add the web clipper to your toolbar so you can clip anything you see on the web. The sky is the limit.

My favorite part is that you can put all the notes you take into one notebook. So instead of seeing all your lists at one time, you can just view your lists for that notebook. When I’m blogging the last thing I want to see is my personal to-do list. Super distracting. 

I still have multiple “notes”, but I can choose just to see all the ones that are labeled underneath my “blogging notebook”. 

I would honestly be lost without Evernote.

 

Find one method and stick with it.

 

I am literally a list-making fiend. I find it super cathartic to write down a list of all the stuff bouncing around in my head. My problem is that I will write lists everywhere! My notebook at work, my planner, my journal, online and maybe a napkin or two(don’t judge).

The problem with writing lists everywhere is that it takes work to keep track of them all (and I usually don’t) and I get a lot of repeats. That’s not productive and I found myself wasting time trying to consolidate everything when I could be working on my actual tasks! Boo. That’s no help.

So you’ve already figured out your best to-do list keeping method. Now stick with it. Don’t write lists anywhere else. You can have multiple lists, in fact, I advise it, but don’t keep them in multiple places. It’s too messy and we’re looking for the opposite of messy right now.



Use the Pomodoro Technique.

 

The easiest way to start on your to-do list is to break it down into manageable timeframes. Instead of looking at hours of work you’re looking at chunks of time followed by a quick break.

The Pomodoro technique is traditionally 25 minutes of work with a short break after, but I prefer to work in 45-minute increments with a 15-minute break. I find that 25 minutes is too short for me because by the time I get into my groove it’s time for a break.

Sometimes I’m tempted to go longer than the 45 minutes, but it really is important to take that break because you come back refreshed and, therefore, more productive.

You check out a bunch of Pomodoro Timers here and find which one works best for you.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Did you know that Pomodoro is short for tomato!? So the Pomodoro Technique is actually the Tomato Technique! How cute! #pomodorotechnique #productivity” quote=”Did you know that Pomodoro is short for tomato!? So the Pomodoro Technique is actually the Tomato Technique! How cute!”]

Break it down.

 

Not only do you want to break down how long you’re working for, but you also want to break down larger tasks into manageable, bite-size chunks so you don’t get overwhelmed.

For example, I’m working on my free offering for all you lovely people. I’m creating a short E-book to jumpstart you on your way to your best life. If I just wrote “work on opt-in” on my to-do list I would avoid it because it’s super overwhelming. By breaking it down into different parts it’s a lot more manageable.

“Work on opt-in” turns into “come up with a title”, “design cover”, “make outline”, and so on. It was so much simpler to get started on it once it wasn’t this big, time-consuming to-do that I had to accomplish.

Just start on your to-do list

 

“Start” is my word of the year. Anticipation anxiety is a real thing and can prevent you from getting a start on your to-do list. You worry about all the what-ifs and possibilities that 99% of the time will never happen.

Has worrying ever actually helped you? It hasn’t helped me. It’s just eaten my time up like a big productivity eating monster.

So slay that monster by letting go of all the thoughts and feelings that aren’t serving you and just start. Often when you simply start your to-do list the momentum will keep you moving forward.

I thought this article would take me a long time because I’d have to sit and ponder what really took me from being a perfectionist who sat on my to-do list to one who kicked its butt each day. I just started and everything just came flowing out of me. It’s not always like that, but sometimes you just need to start on your to-do list to show yourself you can do it.

Make multiple lists.

 

I have a LOT of to-do lists. I have a daily to-do list, weekly to-do list, and an “I should do this eventually” to-do list and that’s just for blogging! By separating them out like that I find that they’re easier to manage, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone. Figure out what serves you best by experimenting because it’s so much easier to start on your to-do list when you have them organized.

I like having multiple to-do lists because it makes everything more manageable and I like separating my work life from my personal life. It limits distractions and helps me focus on what I’m doing at that moment.

For super important deadlines I also use my delightful Erin Condren planner. It’s technically my one caveat to keeping all my lists in one place because I like to have all my major due dates written into my schedule. I say technically because I view this more as a scheduling issue and less of a to-do list issue.

to-do list

 

 

For some reason, electronic calendars have just never worked for me. I love handwriting it into a cute planner and this one comes with stickers. It’s like Lisa Frank for adults. Who could say no!?

Everything on Erin Condren is 25% off right now with the code INLUCK25 (3/15/18) so check them out and get excited about planning!

I also use these super affordable pens to keep things bright and cheery. I’ve had them for almost a year now and they’re still working great!

 

Add one easy thing to your list.

 

I get a frisson of excitement every time I check something off my to-do list. I make sure to put one easy thing on my list that I can either check off right away or that I can treat myself with throughout my day.

It really depends on what kind of mood I’m in. If I’m having a really unmotivated day I’ll put something super easy like “brush my teeth” so I can check it off right away and feel successful. If it’s a good day then I’ll add something I’m always excited to do like “respond to blog comments.”

I know it sounds silly and I thought so too, but it has actually really helped me to feel more successful with tackling my to-do list.

 

Do the hardest thing first.

 

I learned this one way back in elementary school when we first started getting homework. I loved reading but hated math. It wasn’t that I was bad at math, but it definitely didn’t spark my soul like reading or English did.

I don’t remember who I learned this from, but it stuck with me and has served me well. In order to get a great start on your to-do list accomplish the hardest task first. Then you won’t be dreading it and you’re coming at it with a fresh mind.

People often save the hardest until last causing them to drag their feet on other tasks because they don’t want to reach the end. If it’s at the end of your list you’re also going to be tired and worn out by the time you get to it. That will make it even harder to accomplish which just furthers your belief that this is a hard thing to do.

In my case this was math. I was never bad at it, but I wasn’t great either. By saving it until last I was tackling it when I was at my most tired and it made it seem so much more difficult. I started to believe I was actually bad at math. Once I started tackling it first it was so much easier and I remembered a lot more of what I learned.

 

Make a work area you love.

 

I’m a huge believer in keeping little things around me that remind me of what my goals are. My boyfriend made me this adorable, custom LED sign for my website that reminds me every day of why I started Buddha Belly and why I continue to pour my blood, sweat, and tears into it.

 

get started on your to-do list

 

Creating a spot to work that’s comfortable and motivating can really help you when you start on your to-do list. It makes you want to be there!

I have my dream desk. It has a glass top and metallic saw-horse legs and a comfy pink chair. On my actual desk in a Himalayan salt lamp, pictures of my loved ones and little organizers because you can never be too organized. And of course a ton of candles!

I try and keep my space as neat as possible because I’ve found a clean workspace leads to a clean mind.

I’ll never tell my mom she was right though, haha!

 



Know your limits.

 

When I’m getting ready to start my to-do list I try and only put as many items on there as I think I can reasonably do. If you put a superhuman’s worth of tasks on your to-do list you’re setting yourself up to fail.  No one wants to start on their to-do list when they know they can’t win. That’s no fun and definitely won’t leave you feeling successful at the end of the day.

Sure some days I have stuff leftover. Life happens. But knowingly putting too much on there isn’t helpful and can lead to monkey brain (your mind is just all over the place).

So before you start your to-do list take a look at your schedule and ask yourself if you reasonably think you’d be able to fit this in.

 

Prioritize.

 

Woof.

Okay, so as much as I know I shouldn’t put too many things on my to-do list…I usually do anyway. Guilty as charged. I don’t always take my own advice.

Since I know this about myself I make sure that I prioritize my list.

This means before you start on your to-do list you should either rewrite your list in order from most important to least or you can write little numbers next to each item on your list with 1 being the most important. That way if you don’t finish you at least got the most important stuff done.

Reward yourself.

 

Before you start your to-do list and slay your day grab a cup of coffee and think of a reward for yourself.

Is it an episode of your favorite show at the end of the day? Do you have a great wine chilling in the fridge to treat yourself to after dinner?

Whatever it is, figure it out, and reward yourself for a hard days work. It gives you something to look forward to besides the feeling of accomplishment that comes from checking things off.

Today my treat is my FabFitFun box that I’ve been tracking like a child watching the Google Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve. It finally arrived, but I’m waiting to experience all the goodies until the end of the day when I’ve gotten all the big to-dos checked off!

This is how I went from Netflix procrastinator to to-do list slayer. It doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest on the block if you aren’t accomplishing anything.

Start on your to-do list using these tips and you’ll feel like a productive superwoman in no time.

If you liked these tips please share it with others who might find it helpful! Also, check out my post on self-care because you’re going to need it after all that hard work.

Do you have any tips on how to get through your to-do list? Please let me know below because I’d love to start using them!

 

 

 

why you're not finishing your to-do listto-do list asap

 

77 Comments

  1. March 16, 2018 / 11:37 am

    I’m also an avid list maker. Fortunately my lists are quite well organised so I usually know which things to prioritise but sometimes that list just seems to get longer and longer!

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 20, 2018 / 5:34 pm

      Hi Emily,

      That’s awesome. That’s typically why I try and keep things separate on how much I can handle that day and what doesn’t need to be done immediately. It’s an effort. That’s for sure!

  2. March 16, 2018 / 12:47 pm

    This is a great guide for becoming more productive. I think a to-do list is important no matter what technique works for you. I usually keep a journal to keep track of all my tasks.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 20, 2018 / 5:35 pm

      I completely agree, Alison. That’s great!

  3. March 16, 2018 / 1:46 pm

    This is great! Sometimes I reward myself first and then it never gets done….oops!

  4. March 16, 2018 / 5:51 pm

    Creating the to do list is easy its the actual doing part that is hard. This post was so good. Thanks for sharing.

  5. March 16, 2018 / 8:47 pm

    I live by my to-do-list – to be honest I would lost without them. You shared some good tips to get people started.

    ❥ tanvii.com

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 16, 2018 / 8:49 pm

      Hi Tanvii,

      Thanks so much!

  6. March 17, 2018 / 1:19 am

    Sigh, I need to follow the steps in this list for sure!! I love writing stuff down but it often gets written down all over the place and then forgotten. I have a planner that I use but not really for to do lists daily. Mostly for big events and appointments. I can’t handle list making apps and stuff, they get forgotten too lol.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 20, 2018 / 5:36 pm

      Hi Ayana, I was definitely the same way before I started using Evernote regularly. I would have written it on my BF’s forehead if he had let me.

  7. March 17, 2018 / 1:55 am

    I’m like you – I can’t use electronic lists. I have paper lists everywhere, and try to keep my lists in the same areas as the tasks I need to complete. I love the idea of keeping them all in one place!

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 17, 2018 / 2:17 am

      Hi Sarah,

      Yeah, I’m okay with electronic lists, but for some reason, I just can’t keep an electronic schedule. I’m glad my tips were helpful!

  8. March 17, 2018 / 8:23 am

    Know your limits, prioritise and rewarding self are key – great tips that I will be taking onboard for sure x

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 17, 2018 / 5:23 pm

      Hi Melanie,

      Exactly! I hope they’re helpful, chica!

  9. Elizabeth O
    March 17, 2018 / 11:51 am

    You provided so many great tips here on how to get motivation and start your to-do list. I am a write it down in a real life diary person too. Electronic lists are hard to get on with.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 20, 2018 / 5:37 pm

      Thanks so much, Elizabeth!

  10. March 17, 2018 / 4:42 pm

    This is so me! I love making to-do lists, so much so that I write one every evening for the next day. It helps me stay on track and achieve everything on the list. I’ve had days with no lists and I kind of end up in that situation watching videos on youtube too. I need a little control and my lists help me do that, by the evening when everything is ticked off then I can do whatever I want, thats my reward!

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 17, 2018 / 5:22 pm

      I love it! I start off writing lists each morning, but I do want to give evenings a try to see if it works better for me. Experimentation time!

  11. March 17, 2018 / 6:53 pm

    These are some great ideas and tips to get started on the to-do list. Pomodoro technique sounds like something I need to implement myself. I am working on creating my own personal corner where I can feel comfortable and motivated.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 20, 2018 / 5:35 pm

      Hi Preet! That’s so great. Let me know how the Pomodoro technique works out for you!

  12. March 17, 2018 / 7:30 pm

    I am an avid list maker. Sometimes my list is even a list of all the lists I need to write down lol so thanks for sharing this! 🙂

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 18, 2018 / 8:57 pm

      Haha, I love it. You sound just like me!

  13. March 17, 2018 / 9:49 pm

    I love the Pomodoro technique! I use it for a lot of things including getting up and taking walk breaks.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 18, 2018 / 8:56 pm

      That’s perfect. I love taking walks on my lunch breaks. So refreshing!

  14. March 17, 2018 / 11:33 pm

    Love the Pomodoro technique!
    And I’m drowning in sticky-note lists here, so thank you for your detailed method 🙂
    I’ll make sure to be more organized with mine!

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 18, 2018 / 8:56 pm

      Yes! I was so guilty of being sticky-note obsessed. I just found them super hard to keep up with and it ended up taking more time to figure out what I needed to do than actually doing them.

  15. March 18, 2018 / 3:12 am

    managing my to-do list for work is so hard! i’ll definitely use some of these tips.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 18, 2018 / 8:53 pm

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I’m so glad it was helpful! Best of luck 🙂

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 18, 2018 / 8:55 pm

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I’m so glad they’re helpful!

  16. March 18, 2018 / 5:28 am

    I am ALL ABOUT making lists. I use to keep all my tasks in my head, but I realize that when I write it down, it makes it a reality for me. plus it seems less intimidating. Taking breaks is a must. just walk away to clear your mind. it really helps!

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 18, 2018 / 8:54 pm

      Yes! I find that I forget a lot of things if I don’t write a list. Plus, I feel like my brain is just so cluttered with all the different to-dos floating around my head.

  17. March 18, 2018 / 8:36 am

    I actually do like to make to-do lists and I find it that when I do, I am much more productive then when I don’t. I find it much easier to complete the tasks when they are written down, even if they are just bullet points.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 18, 2018 / 8:53 pm

      I find writing lists super cathartic. If I don’t write a list I either feel like I’m not accomplishing anything or I forget things I need to do and think I’m done.

  18. March 18, 2018 / 9:13 am

    Really amazing tips! When I was a working student I used the pomodoro technique because I only had few hours a day to study and needed to make the most of them! Now I put times next to my to do list (or deadlines) so I don’t procrastinate 😉

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 18, 2018 / 8:51 pm

      Hi Nati,

      Putting times on your schedule sounds like a great way to stay on top of things and make sure you’re not running behind. I’ll have to try that out. One of the things that still gets me is once I start I get carried away with what I’m doing and lose track of time. Working with the Pomodoro technique or using timelines really helps me from getting carried away with whatever I’m doing.

  19. March 18, 2018 / 10:17 am

    Just retweeted your post it is extremely helpful to those struggling with being organised. I personally don’t like electronic list either writing things down is better for me. I plan to use this post to get organised over the weekend.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 18, 2018 / 8:48 pm

      Hi Taslyn,

      Thank you! I’m glad it’s helpful. Good luck getting organized. I’m a fiend at pinning organization tips on Pinterest, lol! I can’t wait until I get a house that I can organize more effectively.

  20. March 18, 2018 / 10:45 am

    These are some great tips! I’m struggling with keeping to a schedule. Thanks for sharing x

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 18, 2018 / 8:47 pm

      Hi Rosalie,

      Thanks so much. I hope they help!

  21. March 18, 2018 / 12:06 pm

    Good advice to do the hardest thing first – I often avoid doing this and it means it gets left on the list!

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 18, 2018 / 8:47 pm

      Yup, I learned that the hard way. If I leave it until last I will never do it!

  22. Esme Sy
    March 18, 2018 / 10:55 pm

    These are all proven and effective, I guarantee it. The last part is where I’m lacking at. I seem to miss out the fact that I need rest and reward, I just continue to cycle throughout the stages and/or phases. I get things done, yes, but little by little I find myself looking for more.

  23. darthzannah5
    March 18, 2018 / 11:19 pm

    I didn’t know Evernote had a list option! I’ve used it for school for years and it was great to have a digital notebook, and having all my lists together will be even better! Thank you for explaining how it works!

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 2:07 am

      You’re very welcome!

  24. March 19, 2018 / 12:05 am

    I am all about lists! When I need to buckle down and get something done a liat is where I get started. It works wonders and totally helps me keep on track. Love the awesome advice hun ♡

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 2:07 am

      Hi Sara,

      Thanks, so much. I get a super, special happiness inside when I check things off, haha. Without them, I feel like I’m not doing anything even if I spend the whole day running errands.

  25. March 19, 2018 / 1:25 am

    This are some great tips i am really going to pick up. being a procrastinator after listing down many to dos. Thanks for sharing this. Really insightful

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 2:06 am

      Hi Jossy,

      I love your name. I’m so glad these tips are helpful!

  26. March 19, 2018 / 3:38 am

    I always wanted to know how to get my “to do list” done up on time, this is a great post. Not only the article is details, it also show you the step by step method to get our task done and achieve our goal. I love the final tips on rewarding. I guess this is the best part and I will look for it every time I completed my task. It will get me motivated too!

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 20, 2018 / 5:37 pm

      Thanks so much! I’m super glad it was helpful.

  27. March 19, 2018 / 6:12 am

    I need to get into Evernote. It’s on my computer but I never use it! Also, I love the pomodoro technique! I might have to try it at work!

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 1:10 pm

      I’ve found it’s useful in everything. I just make sure to keep my work notes in their own notebook otherwise I start to stress if I see them at home when I’m doing personal stuff.

  28. March 19, 2018 / 11:57 am

    So appreciate the motivation to get going and get my list completed. Sometimes it just gets over whelming. The Pomodoro method is something I applied in college and it’s so great to be reminded that I can apply it to my to do list too.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 1:09 pm

      Hi Evelyn,

      So happy I could give some helpful tips!

  29. Daisy
    March 19, 2018 / 2:29 pm

    These are tips I need to follow for sure…. I’m great about making lists but then…. I sort of forget about them … I would really like to be more organized:)

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 6:14 pm

      Hi Daisy,

      Yeah, the biggest thing that helped me was having all my lists in one place. I swear I had them on every writing surface possible.

  30. March 19, 2018 / 2:52 pm

    These are all such great tips! Thanks for sharing!

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 6:13 pm

      Hi Margaret,

      Thanks so much!

  31. March 19, 2018 / 4:53 pm

    The to do list I am the king of list and paperwork I am so glad that I am not the only one. To do list help me to be super productive I will definitely have to engage in some of your mentioned techniques to better myself

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 6:11 pm

      It’s great to meet a like-minded soul! I hope the tips help you out!

  32. March 19, 2018 / 10:54 pm

    I love this post. I live by to-do lists! They keep me on track I don’t know what I’d do without them.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 20, 2018 / 1:28 am

      Hi Monique,

      Thanks so much! They’re my organizational ride-or-die bitches, haha

  33. March 20, 2018 / 8:36 pm

    My to-do lists are always sooooo long, and I often struggle with prioritising what’s important and what’s not 🙁 so all this advice is really useful for me – gonna see if I can put some of it into practice! x

  34. March 21, 2018 / 2:24 am

    Such a great tips. I too cant do without my do list. It works wonder for me and keeps me on the track.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 21, 2018 / 3:04 am

      Thanks so much!

  35. March 21, 2018 / 2:57 am

    Its so hard to have to do lists and stick with them when you hsve small kids and run a business. Life is so unpredictable at times.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 21, 2018 / 3:06 am

      I totally agree. Running my blog while working full-time definitely makes me have to be flexible. The biggest thing I’ve done to help myself with that is pick 4 things I have to do and if the others don’t get done it’s not the end of the world. But when you have kids who skin their knee or a sponsored blog emergency you gotta be able to go with the flow 🙂

  36. March 22, 2018 / 3:52 pm

    I make lists to make lists. Now my babies are making lists. I love planning and planners

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 4:02 pm

      Haha, I love it!

  37. March 22, 2018 / 5:51 pm

    Yes, I’m so glad I’m doing most of what you advise! I make point form list and break some of them down to make it easier to complete. Also, I like cancelling off the ones I complete as it give a sense of achievement!

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 6:21 pm

      I completely agree with the thrill of getting to check them off! Lovely to meet a fellow list organizer enthusiast!

  38. March 22, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    I should really use your tips for I’m living in the constant chaos of being disorganised. No kidding, to-do lists scare me. My main problem, though, is that I don’t like my work area at all (and it’s not up to me to change it yet), and I’m also far too ready to reward myself. Ah, I need to learn self-discipline, and use a list. Thanks for sharing, it’s given me an inspiration to sort out my schedule!

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 23, 2018 / 4:22 pm

      I hated to-do lists at first, but I found they helped with my anxiety and lessened my workload because I was actually getting things done. It’s like starting any habit I think. Give it 30 days and you’ll find it’s so much easier. And maybe you’ll get a tiny thrill each time you check things off too!

  39. DuaaShehzadKhan
    March 27, 2018 / 4:55 am

    I love these tips! Surely going do to implement. Thank you Jen! 💙

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 27, 2018 / 11:16 pm

      I hope they work for ya, girly!

  40. March 29, 2018 / 2:52 pm

    I really love all these tips. And big thanks for sharing all with us.

    • awaitressnomore
      Author
      March 29, 2018 / 4:06 pm

      You’re very welcome. Glad you liked it!

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