How to Finish Everything on Your To Do List

The following is a guest post from regular contributor, Emily R. at My Love For Words.

I love making to do lists. When I’m overwhelmed or stressed by how much I have to do, the simple act of writing everything down on a piece of paper can calm and destress me.

How to Finish Everything on Your To Do List plus free printable!

Unfortunately, that relief is sometimes short-lived. It’s not uncommon for me to write my to do lists with the best of intentions only to end up neglecting many (if not most!) of the tasks. The resulting stress makes me create a new, updated to do list, and the vicious cycle begins: get stressed, make list, finish only a few tasks, get stressed again, make a new list… it can be really frustrating.

Over the summer I read a fascinating piece about why millionaires don’t use to-do lists, and I realized the HUGE mistake I’d been making and why so many of my to-do lists end up undone. So what’s the secret the millionaires know that I didn’t? All of their tasks ultimately end up on their calendars not just on a basic list. How smart is that?!

I’m not ready to give up on a general to do list altogether because it helps me keep track of and prioritize my tasks, but I have drastically changed how I use them.

I now begin with a general list of all my must-dos. This is basically a cathartic brain dump. It makes my tasks feel manageable and a lot less overwhelming, but now I take my to do list one step further, and this is the key… everything on my to do list immediately gets added to my weekly schedule.

The simple change of scheduling my to dos has been great because:

1. My stress and anxiety over when or how things will get done has greatly decreased because everything’s already planned.

2. I schedule the most important things first. This helps me keep my priorities straight and my time jar correctly filled.

3. I can easily see if I’m running out of time and trying to squeeze too many things into my week. I no longer feel guilty about putting off tasks because they’re just being scheduled for a later date instead of indefinitely ignored.

This is why I designed my new to do list with room for tasks and scheduling, and I’m excited to share that it’s a sneak peek of my soon to be released printable planner, This Organized Life. You can download your free copy today by clicking here.

I’d love to know if you’re addicted to making to do lists like I am? How do you guarantee that everything gets done?

Emily R

Emily is a wife and stay-at-home mom to her four children. She’s currently sharing the good, bad, and ugly in her journey to creating an organized and decluttered home on her blog My Love for Words. She also shares recipes, crafts, home decor ideas, and thoughts on life and motherhood. When she isn’t blogging, she can be found reading, cooking, or homeschooling her kids.


Filed under: Emily R., Guest Bloggers, Lists, Printables


11 Responses to How to Finish Everything on Your To Do List

  1. 1
    Katie B. says

    Emily, I think you’re onto something with the idea of calendaring tasks and To Do’s instead of making a list! My daughter gave me a gorgeous day planner two weeks ago. At the time, I rolled my eyes. Hey, I’ve got a Calendar app on my phone and a To Do list app, too. Why would I use paper?! Well, these last two weeks have been insanely productive because, instead of making lists, I’m setting appointments with myself to do things. Love your printable, too!

  2. 2
    Hayley says

    Some cool ideas – and I liked the linked article too about millionaires and their schedules. Definitely going to give that a try!

  3. 3
    Becky L says

    Of course I have the best of intentions to do my list of to dos. But I am lazy I think and just need to get my rear in gear. The obvious gets done. Kitchen. Living room, dining room. Other places seem less important. It eventually gets done. Will check out your printable. Thanks!

  4. 4
    Karin Alvarado says

    How do you use the bottom half of your printable. It doesn’t seem large enough to write in.

  5. 5
    Deb Hyden says

    I have been out on leave from work and really wanted to accomplish a lot while I was home as soon as I was feeling better. I started doing the brain dump of everything I wanted to get done. Then each day would list things I had to do (ie. car pool or make an appointment at doctors) and then a couple of things I wanted to get accomplished. Did I get them all accomplished every day? No …but I sure got a lot more done than just sitting looking at a huge to do list. I love your printable.

  6. 6
    Steven says

    This a great article. Thanks. I only have one list: my TODAY list. Focus on what needs to get done today that moves things forward in the most profound way. Just my 2 cents :-).

  7. 7
    [email protected] says

    I completely agree! Scheduling your to-do’s makes sure that they actually happen this week, versus “hopefully some day!” Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. 8
    Chris says

    One thing I have learned at work is to put a priority value to all your tasks and write down a expected completion date. It has made a world of difference at work and I’m slowly transitioning into my home life also.

  9. 9
    Mary says

    Thank you for your advices! As for me, I usually use a project management tool which makes me to do the most important things at once and then move to the smaller ones. It’s and it’s a great alternative to dull and old to-do lists. I draw a workflow here and see the big picture of my project at once. It motivates me to move toward my goals as I can track the progress, marking tasks as done.

  10. 10
    Robin says

    Hi, I tried the link to the printable and keep getting an error message that it can’t be found.

    • 10.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Hi Robin, I just tried the link and it worked for me. It opens into Dropbox. Just click on the blue download box in the top right hand corner and then click on direct download and it will give you the pdf in adobe. Hope you get it to work. Laura


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