How to Create a Powerful To-Do List

You stink at remembering things. Blunt, but true.

Source: Jopwell Collection


In speaking engagements, I often tell participants, “You are fired from the job of remembering stuff.”


Yet, so many people rely on their brains to keep up with the things they need to do.


If you look up “memory biases” on Wikipedia, you’ll see a list of 51 reasons why your memory stinks.


These 51+ biases are the reason you need a powerful to-do list.


An effective to-do list is your #1 productivity tool. It keeps you focused on priorities, helps you make steady progress, and relieves you of the burden of remembering all the things you need to do.  



10 Tips to Create A Powerful To-Do List


  1. Centralize all your action items in one place: an electronic planner or a hand-written If your to-dos are scattered, your brain is scattered.
  2. Be discerning about what you choose to spend your time on. Everything on your list needs to be an important action that you should perform.
  3. Expect your list to be large and robust. This list encompasses everything you need to do in the foreseeable future.
  4. Avoid overwhelm by assigning progress dates to all to-dos when they are added to the list. A progress date is (duh!) the date on which you wish to make progress.
  5. Make each to-do specific by starting them a verb such as: Email Rachel about the report, Return Joe’s call re: blah-de-blah.
  6. Perform your most challenging to-dos at times when you are alert and engaged. If you find yourself not being productive, reengage or move to another to-do item.
  7. Review tomorrow’s to-do list the afternoon before. As eager as you may be to leave the office, take a few minutes. This can prevent early morning surprises and help you prepare for the next day.
  8. Do activities you dislike early in the day. It will feel good to get them done rather than dreading them all day.
  9. Schedule specific time on your calendar to perform time-intensive to-dos. Then, honor that blocked-off time.
  10. Avoid using your email inbox as your to-do list. Email-based actions should be added to your centralized list.


“Your to-do list is a crystal ball that reveals your future.” ~Me


If you want to have a balanced life, you must maintain a balanced to-do list.


Does your list include your loved ones? Your friends? Self-care?


If you don’t like the future that your to-do list is constructing, act now.


To help you with this critical productivity process, I have written an eBook entitled, Corral Your To-Dos…and don’t rely on your brain at all.


With all the excitement over my recent storybook, I have neglected to tell you that I revamped all six of my eBooks in the Crazy Productive series, including:

  • Adding implementation worksheets
  • Making Kindle versions available
  • And…reducing the price!


So, now you know! The nice thing is that many of you discovered this on your own and have already purchased the new versions. Thanks for your diligence. I’ve been focused on Seraphina Does Everything! lately.


Click here to see the skills you will gain from Corral Your To-Dos..and don’t rely on your brain at all. Purchasing information, both PDF and Kindle, is available on that page.


As simple as a to-do list sounds, it is the most powerful tool in your productivity toolbox, along with your calendar.


Keep in mind, however, that a car is only as good as its driver. Update your to-do list every day. Critically review the content of your list at least once a week (remembering that whole “crystal ball” thing).


…and really, seriously, don’t rely on your brain. Your memory stinks.


Corral To-Dos eBook

Are you ready to get serious about doing the right things AND doing things right?

Check out my eBook Corral Your To-Dos: and don’t rely on your brain – at all.

Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


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