To-Do Lists Video

Video Transcript

How to write prioritized To-Do Lists,
with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.

James Manktelow: Hello. I'm James Manktelow, CEO of, home to hundreds of free career-boosting tools and resources.

Amy Carlson: And I'm Amy Carlson from Mind Tools.

When you have a lot to do, it's easy to forget an important task or commitment. This leaves you scrambling to meet deadlines.

And, if this happens often, your work, and your reputation, starts to suffer. None of us want that!

This is why it's so important to use a To-Do List to organize and prioritize your activities.

JM: To-Do Lists are simple lists of all the things that you have to do, prioritized in the order you need to do them.

To-Do Lists not only help you keep track of all your tasks and commitments – they also help you avoid stress.

This is because you don't have to worry about remembering everything that you need to do – once it's written out, all you have to do is look at your list.

To-Do Lists are really helpful whenever you have a lot of tasks to work on.

You can also use them to break up a large task into several, smaller tasks, so that you don't feel overwhelmed, or forget something important.

AC: When you go to write out your To-Do List, just start jotting down all the tasks you need to do.

If there's a large task on the list, then break it up into smaller manageable steps that will take no longer than one or two hours to complete.

For instance, imagine you need to submit an order for office supplies. This might seem like a quick task, but once you think about it, you realize you need to look at last quarter's order to see what was submitted.

You also need to take inventory of what you have left. And, you need to go around and ask your team what they need.

So, this task actually involves three smaller action steps. You'll want to write all of these underneath the larger task of ordering supplies.

JM: Once you've listed all of your tasks, run through them, allocating priorities from A – very important – to F – not at all important.

Then, rewrite the list in priority order.

You can then work through your To-Do List, starting with the high priority A tasks first. You can then do the Bs, the Cs, and so on.

AC: It's also helpful to spend five or ten minutes going over your To-Do List at the end of the day.

Look at what you got done, and what you'll need to move over to tomorrow's list.

Again, using a To-Do List is an effective way to stay on top of all your tasks and responsibilities.

And if you find yourself forgetting to do things, or underestimating how much work you have to get done during the day, you'll find To-Do Lists extremely helpful.

JM: To-Do Lists are most effective when you have a fairly limited number of things to get done.

If you have a lot to do, then you'll want to use Action Program instead. Think of Action Programs as beefed-up versions of To-Do Lists.

You can find more about To-Do Lists, and Action Programs, in the article that accompanies this video.

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