Mastering The ‘To Do’ List

If you are anything like me, you have created a lot of to-do lists in your life. I know I have created many over the years. Whether it was at work, in school, or my personal life I have always been a person to make lists. I have been a planner person for years, but I have in the past gone through stages of not using them, and when this happens I revert to the good ol’ to-do list.
If you have been reading my blog since the beginning, you know when I found the world of decorative planning, I fell in love. But after falling in love with the stickers and the prettiness, I also found a flaw in myself. I like my planner spreads to look pretty but I also want them to be perfect. I don’t like when my handwriting looks bad, or the spread doesn’t match the page. So as mentioned in my previous post- Planners & To Do Lists ( I have added in a to-do list notebook into my planner/life routine so I have a place to write my daily to-dos and I don’t have to worry about them matching anything or being my best handwriting.

When I started my to-do list notebook, I would write the date at the top of the page and have a running list for the day. I would cross out the items I completed but would never re-write the uncomplete items onto the next days. So I would have to look at the prior day(s) to see if I had any items left. With this system I found I was continually looking back and forth and sometimes would miss tasks. I knew this process wasn’t going to work for me, and when something doesn’t work I don’t use it.

Along with my love of planners and organization, colour coding is close to my heart. If there is the opportunity to organize something…anything by colour, I am all for that life! So I thought why not add some colour coding to my to-do lists and see if that improves the process. I had also been watching and reading up on bullet journals and really liking symbols as a way of organization, so I have started in implement a couple of those in my to-do lists as well.

My new to-do system looks like this:

I start by writing the date at the top of the list. It does bug me that I don’t write the date in the pretty pink space provided at the top of the page, but my daily list isn’t always one page long- I tend to only bullet point out what my tasks are, and unlike some other to-do list makers I don’t write all the steps or process of completing that one task. As much as I don’t like not using that space, I just as much don’t like wasting paper. Plus I like having multi days on one page.

Colour Coding                                                                                                                                           My colour coding system is really basic, it is based off of how many days that item/task has been on the list. If a task moves to day two then it is highlighted in green, day three is blue, four is purple, five is pink, six is orange, and seven is yellow. I have been writing the order of colours at the top of the page until I get used to their sequence. Everyday I write my to-do list which will include both new tasks and tasks that have been carried on from the prior days. I haven’t be writing the tasks in a particular order, sometimes I start with the carried over tasks and some days they are mixed up. I have been trying to get better at sitting down at the end of the day and writing the left over tasks and anything new for the next day to pre-plan a bit, but so far I haven’t built this habit into my routine yet.

This is a very simple colour coding system but so far it is working for me. I can quickly look at the page and prioritize what I need to do first. Although for me, it is not always the items in orange or yellow that need to be done first, those items could be that colour because I am waiting on something to be able to complete them, or they could be that colour because they didn’t have a specific day they needed to be completed. But when those colours are on there, I know that it is something that I have to keep an eye on.

I also use my to-do list as a brain dumping space. If I think of something that I need to do whether it is for that day or just in general for some point during the week, it goes on whatever day I am currently on and keeps getting moved over until it is done. At first I was trying to decide whether I should have a weekly list to put these items on and then move them to the daily list when I decide to do them, but so far I haven’t done this. At the moment I would rather see those tasks moved to each day then to have to remember to look at the weekly list throughout the day.                                                                                                                       For example at some point during this week I have to have signs put up saying we will be closed Thanksgiving Monday. I thought of this at the beginning of the week and put it on my Monday list, knowing that I probably wouldn’t get to it Monday, then it moved over to the Tuesday, and then the Wednesday. I don’t plan on posting the signs till the weekend but I have them on my daily list just in case I get a pocket of time that works well for me to complete the task.                                                                                                         That is an item that will never go yellow because it has a due date that isn’t going to allow it to be on my list longer then a few days.

Symbols                                                                                                                                                         Prior to colour coding I was using two symbols to indicate if they task on the list was a new item or was carried from a prior day. A new task had a bullet point in front of it and a migrated task from prior days had a > in front of it. When a migrated task  was completed I would turn the > into a x and put a line through the task. I have continued to use these symbols a long with my colour coding, even though it is a little redundant. I would like to add in other symbols to help prioritize tasks.  I want to find a symbol to use for an item that I have brain dumped onto that day but doesn’t necessarily have to be completed that day. I also would like to use a symbol to show items that have specific due dates, as of right now I am just writing the due date next to it. I do see a lot of people using a clock symbol for this and I think I am going to test that out. I think I will also start to make a bigger bullet point and shade half of it in for items that I have started to complete but are in the waiting stage, but I still don’t know what symbol to use for tasks that don’t have a specific date to complete.

If you have any symbols that you have incorporated into your bullet planning or to-do lists that you really like, please comment below. I would love to hear what works well for you and see if it would work in my planning/listing.

I do like the combination of my planner and this to-do list notebook but I am trying to decide what I want to do for my personal (non-work life) to-do list items. So far I haven’t been putting them on this list. I have been using spaces in my planner for these, but I do think I could benefit from having them in their own list. Maybe I will start a section in my Recollection Planner, but for now I at least have a system for work that is productive for me. I will be using this notebook for the rest of 2016 and then I think I will continue my to-do list process but put them in the 2017 OC planner that I reviewed here a couple weeks ago. But that is still three months away and if you love the Happy Planner you know about their new releases at the end of this month, so who knows what planner(s) will come home with me after that.






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