If you already
keep (or live and die) by your to-do list, then congratulations, you’re doing it right! If you don’t, you might be missing out. Using a to-do list is one of the most common traits of millionaires.
In a study conducted by Thomas Corley, the author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success of Wealthy Individuals”, he found that one of the most consistent habits of millionaires is keeping and following their to-do lists. But, of course, it’s not enough to simply have a to-do list. You must do the tasks on your list. Since this is a part of personal development, there is no single to-do list model that works for everyone. Your ideal to-do list medium will be personal. Figuring out which medium works best for you is a valuable investment of your time. It can lead you to become one of those millionaires, too!
Figuring out which medium works best for you is a valuable investment of your time. It can lead you to become one of those millionaires, too!
Here’s a breakdown of some to-do list strategies as well as their pros and cons. These are tried and true methods from some of the wealthiest entrepreneurs, professionals, and investors. See which one sounds best for you!
The benefit of a digital to-do list is that you can add to it and access it from any time and place. Whether you’re at work, the grocery store, or at home, you never know when a task will pop into your head. For those on-the-go, that’s a major benefit to digital to-do lists. Here are some digital options:
Used by yours truly, Trello is a free, online management system. It allows you to break tasks and lists down by folders, then by lists, then by tasks. Within each task, you can include a description, a to-do list, upload a document, and label each task.
I label my tasks with three categories, per the recommendation of Classy Career Girl: administrative, focus, and errands. This helps me order when I do which tasks. I do the more focus-intensive tasks in the morning when I’m freshest, caffeinated and have alone time. Administrative tasks I leave for later in the night, when I’m tired, have been working all day and might want to unwind with a glass of wine. Errands are useful to group together in case I have time at lunch or when I’m out and about.
Here’s an example of my Trello “to-do” board:
The red= focus
The yellow= errands
The green= administrative
I like Trello’s mobile app, too, which makes it easier to add and check off tasks no matter where I am . I keep Trello open on both my work and my home computer all day in case I think of something I need to add. Each Sunday, I go through the outstanding tasks and schedule when to do them that week.
Google Drive doesn’t have a designed template that is specifically for to-do lists (that I’m aware of). This leaves you the flexibility of designing your to-do list in the way that you want. Whether you have different Google Docs for different areas of your life (errands, side hustles, personal, etc.) and add to them each category, or you keep them all on one sheet or keep spreadsheets with due dates, there’s so much flexibility.
Of course, Google is easily accessible from any internet platform, and if you use your Gmail a lot, you’re likely in that corner of the internet frequently. However, I have found that the Google Drive mobile app is space-consuming on my iPhone. Other than that, I’m a big fan of this platform.
Melyssa Griffin, whose blog brings in over 1 million dollars a year, uses Asana to manage her to-dos and tasks during product launches. Asana isn’t terribly different from Trello, but it does have a calendar interface, which allows you to see when your tasks are due or when you assign them. It’s more of a big picture organizer than a straight list. Another useful part of Asana is that allows you to add tags to tasks, so you can sort your tasks based on your tags. So, for instance, you could have a tag for all things finance related (bills to pay, freelance jobs to apply for, budget tasks, etc.) and when you select the “finance” tag, all the related tasks will appear.
It’s more of a big picture organizer than a straight list. Another useful part of Asana is that allows you to add tags to tasks, so you can sort your tasks based on your tags. So, for instance, you could have a tag for all things finance related (bills to pay, freelance jobs to apply for, budget tasks, etc.) and when you selected the “finance” tag, all the related tasks would appear.
Asana also has a mobile-friendly, easy-to-use app which gives it that digital advantage.
Chris Ducker, the founder of Youpreneur Academy with an inspiring entrepreneurial journey, uses his calendar as his to-do list instead of an actual to-do list. He goes through his day and schedules it down to the minute, filling in the minutes and hours with specific, actionable tasks.
The brilliance of this method is that he knows he has time to complete all of his tasks, instead of frantically trying to find the time to squeeze them all in. There’s nothing more stressful than a never ending to do list.
There’s something so satisfying about physically crossing something off your to-do list. The con is that a print list is something that can be easily lost or forgotten when at work, running errands, etc. and that task pops into your head. Still, many find it extremely effective. Here are some ways to make a print to-do list work for you.
A Sticky Note
Brandon Gaille of The Blog Millionaire, who has built a booming business after overcoming an incredible health obstacle, simply uses one, 3×5 sticky note daily to keep track of his to-dos.
This method brilliantly manages his expectations. He knows that people usually bite off more than they can chew with their daily to-do lists. He has found that the tasks that fit on a 3×5 sticky note are usually how much he can accomplish in one day. This helps him plan for longer term tasks as he can grasp how long they’re going to take him. It also allows him to walk away every day from work with satisfaction. This avoids the drowning feeling most of the stress when we realize how much we still haven’t done.
Brandon writes his list for the following day every night before he goes to bed. He looks at his calendar and his yearly goals and writes down the action items for the next day.
A Day Planner
Abby Lawson, who makes 5 figures a month on her home décor and productivity blog, plans her day down to the hour. It might seem like a bit extreme, to plan that much. However, her method ensures that all of her tasks will get done. She has already allocated a specific time for them each day.
This method does a good job eliminating stress. If you have a task you must get done but you’re already scheduled that day to the hour, you can see your schedule and cut something out. This is so much better than simply assuming that you can get everything done when you just don’t have the time to, which is what leads to more stress for most of us.
Abby has made this beautiful planner for her readers which allows her readers to apply her method. This planner inspired me to make a planner with a similar concept, but specifically for use side hustlers instead. You can plan around your 9-5 job with this baby. It’ll help you make sure you’re making the most of your precious free time.
A good, old-fashioned list
While I use Trello for my life and blog’s to-do lists, I use a traditional handwritten list at work. This is because it’s easier to maintain a handwritten list in meetings, on a call, or in a presentation. I don’t use a laptop at work. Because I have a stationary monitor, I can’t carry my computer around with me. Having a handwritten, portable to-do list helps keep everything in one place, no matter what work setting I’m in.
Craig from Early to Rise uses the same to-do list template every day, but with different tasks. The brilliance of this method is that he on his most daunting and important tasks during the times he knows he is the most focused and creative. His to-do list template looks like this:
- 1-Email (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) or Interviews (Tuesday, Thursday)
- 5-Journaling: Gratitude and Big Thinking
Every morning at 4 AM, he writes every morning. At 8 AM, he works on sales pages and products. At 1 PM, after lunch when he is the least creative, he checks e-mails.
He also says his biggest secret to getting things done is timing himself. I love this technique and reading his article reminded me to start enforcing it more. You definitely get more done on a timer and are way less likely to become distracted with other tasks, especially those tasks that make you believe you’re being productive still but really are just distracting you.