Why Keeping a To Do List Is So Important + How To Get Started

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Over the years I have always had some sort of to do list. Whether it was some sort of digital list in a to do type app, on a file on my computer, or a written list. But what I have discovered is that no matter what type of lists I keep, it has always helped me to have a written to do list for the day.

Why Keeping a To Do List Is So Important

It’s easy to sit down and make out a to do list of things that you know need to be done. But most of the time, that is as far as you get. You make the list, but fail to actually incorporate it into your daily schedule to get the items done. That is why making a daily to do list is so important. It forces you to look at your day and to be intentional to get things done.

Have I convinced you yet? If not…then let’s look at why keeping a daily to do list is so important!

A To Do list helps you plan ahead.

The night before or first thing in the morning, sit down and jot down 5 things that you want to get done that day.  Now these aren’t the ordinary things like doing dishes or laundry.  The To Do List is for those extra projects that you don’t want to forget to get done.  These can be carried over from your goals for the year that you set.

Simply take a look at your week, any extra things that need to be done, and make your list of the 5 things you want to accomplish for the day. Having this list will keep you focused on accomplishing only those 5 things for the day…no becoming overwhelmed with many things on your mind that you need to get done…focus, focus, focus only on those 5 things!

It gets to do items out of your head and onto paper.

I don’t think we realize how much stress and anxiety we cause ourselves because we try to remember too much. Sitting down to make a to do list for the day allows you to get everything out of your head that you need to do that day.

No more trying to remember what time your appointment was, or what that important thing was that you absolutely had to get done that day. You have it written down and your brain is free to concentrate on getting things done instead of remembering your “list”.

It forces you to have a “plan” for the day.

When I sit down to write out my to do list for the following day, I write it out in blocks of time. For example, I write out everything I need to get done before breakfast and homeschool with the kids. Then I write down what I need to get done after our homeschool read-aloud time in the afternoon. Then I also make a list to the side of things I want to get done that I can just fit in when I have some extra time during the day.

But writing it all out forces me to evaluate my day and to have a plan to get things accomplished. I can order my to do list so that I am as efficient as possible and a good steward of my time.

It provides satisfaction when you see items on your to do list being accomplished.

I admit that I am a list-maker.  I love making lists and checking things off.  Having a To Do List each day will give you a sense of accomplishment as you complete tasks and cross them off. Being a stay-at-home mom especially, there are times that I feel my work is never done, and in some sense it isn’t.  But when I have my To Do List posted for the day, and I begin working through it as I have time and crossing things off, it helps me to see that I have accomplished something during the day.  And not only have I accomplished some things, but I have completed tasks that were important and a priority to me.  That just plain feels good.

My family laughs at me when I actually write something on my to do list that I have already done so that I can cross it off. Yes, that’s me! But there is something very real and satisfying about seeing what you have accomplished during the day. Sometimes we get through our day and wonder what we really did all day. Well, having a to do list and crossing items off lets you “see” what was accomplished and gives you a feeling of satisfaction that you lived today to the best of your ability and were intentional.

It helps you to be more intentional.

Writing out a to do list helps you to be intentional because you keep your priorities in mind when making your list. You don’t just fly through the day, unorganized, and flying by the seat of your pants. You have a plan and you are intentional about everything you have on your list. As I get older I am finding that I have to write things down or I forget!  I use my To Do List to jot things down on certain days of the week that they need to be done.

Each day I simply add to the items I have already jotted down to make up my 5 things for the day. I always look at the goals I have set for the year too, so that I can be intentional in including these things in my To Do Lists.  For example, I have been trying to get into a habit of sending one hand-written note a week.  So each week on my To Do List, I jot down on one day of the week the name of someone I want to send a note or card to. Use your daily To Do List to write down those important things that you want to include in your day.

It is a constant visual reminder to stay on track.

I don’t know how your days go, but sometimes my days can get pretty crazy and if I don’t have a to do list before me to keep me on track things just don’t get done.  I write out my to do list on an index card and put it up on my freezer in the kitchen, along with my Weekly Checklist. (My Weekly Checklist is simply a page I print out each week that has my morning and evening routines, a place to jot down extra projects I want to work on during the week, and a place to jot down any outside appointments.

I keep my calendar on Google Calendar, but I like having a visual to look at during the day!) When I have my to do list on the freezer, I am able to glance at it throughout the day, cross things off as I get them done, and remind myself of what still needs to be done that day.

A To Do List allows you to accomplish baby steps towards larger goals.

I know there are many more reasons that using a To Do List is a good idea, but the last one I want to touch on in this post is the fact that when we make Daily To Do Lists, it enables us to break down larger goals into smaller tasks to be completed step by step over time. I get easily overwhelmed when I have a large task ahead of me.  My mind reels with everything that I need to get done…so much so that I never actually get anything done!  You know what I mean?  Well…enter the To Do List!

Let me give you an example…I am currently working on reorganizing my website and writing a bunch of new content. To look at all that needs to be done is very overwhelming, but when I break it down into bite-sized chunks, it seems more doable. I can narrow my focus to that one “thing” I need to do first, and then move on to the next task when that one is done.

This same principle works for any area of our lives. Look at your goals and begin jotting down small tasks under each of those goals so that you can begin adding those to your To Do List and making progress!

What about you?

Do you have a To Do List to keep you on track and focused?

If not, I encourage you to start one today.  You don’t need any special form, just a slip of paper with 5 things written down to complete that day.  If for some reason you don’t complete items on your list, carry them over to the next day.

Give yourself grace as you implement something new.  Remember that it is not so much what we “do” but who are “are” that matters.  If we complete our To Do List but were impatient and cross with our children…well, then we haven’t accomplished what we should have for the day.

Tackle the tough tasks first…then smile as you accomplish great things for the Lord!

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  1. I enjoy making list because it helps me keep focused. Completing tasks either at home or work is exciting knowing I am accomplishing things. Checking items off your list is like a fresh breach of air.
  2. I really have seen the value of this over the last few months. I started putting a very small 1" x 2" sticky note on our homeschool list each day where I can note some "extra" things that need done. It has really helped me to get so much more accomplished! Many times throughout our school morning I end up with a few minutes here and there to easily accomplish a quick something but my head would be swimming to figure out what exactly needed done. Now I cross off and add to the sticky note as I think of things ~ and can reference it easily when I have that few minutes free.
    1. Yes Becky! Exactly! I am the very same way. I get so much more done when I write it down on paper. Then when I do have a few minutes I can glance at my list and see if I have time to get something done. Love it! Thanks for sharing :)!

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