The To-Do List Method That Finally Got My Life In Order squib

Photo by Torey Van Oot

You’ve probably heard by now about the life-changing magic of a functional to-do list. You’ll be more productive! Less stressed! Ready to tackle goals big and small, succeeding beyond belief! But for many, finding the right format for organizing days and goals is the first — and hardest — task to tackle.  

I’ve tried pretty much every strategy under that ever-revolving sun (apps, fancy bullet journals, basic lists on legal pads) to bring order to my world. The systems and products never stuck. So this year, as I transitioned from an office gig to a freelance reporting career, I committed to figuring out a planner and process that would keep my life and time organized as I juggle multiple projects and deadlines. And I found it with a simple approach and a basic $12 notebook.

Each morning, I open my Moleskine graph paper notebook and jot down everything I need to do that day on the top half of the page, with tasks sorted into several buckets. (Most days I end up with four categories: Emails/Calls; Administrative; Writing/Research/Deadlines; and Home/Life.) Breaking down the list this way visualizes what needs to be focused on most and including everything on one page ensures that responsibilities and priorities outside of work aren’t forgotten or ignored, like walking the dog or dropping a package off at the Post Office.

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