The most common mistake in setting to-do lists (And how to avoid it)


Sep 15 2017

Gold Tape

Here’s the most common mistake I see people make when setting to-do lists:

Mistaking a project for a task.

A project is not just one task, but several of these steps. Putting it on your to-do list as one item is overwhelming and doesn’t give enough direction.

The most common mistake in setting to-do lists (And how to avoid it!)


My 3 rules for getting Projects done:

1. Set to-do list boundaries.

I fill up my Personal and Work To-Do lists all the way – no more, no less.

I use the boxes next to each task to estimate how long a task will take. My personal maximum for a task is 60 minutes. Any longer and it is deemed a project, and gets broken into smaller tasks.

2. Break Projects into tasks.

Sometimes a project might evenly split into several steps. Sometimes a project can seem long and repetitive, or just impossible to break into tasks.

I like to start my tasks with a verb, to make the task more actionable. Try breaking up tasks within a project by starting with these words:

  • start
  • work on
  • continue
  • finish
  • edit
  • submit

These work for publishing an article or writing an application, among others. I like to include ‘submit’ because that final stage tends to take a bit more time, and as the final step, calls for that final flourish of celebration by checking it off!

3. Set Monthly Projects with care, and incorporate them each week.

Use your monthly pages to break down the key projects for each month. Take time to identify which 4 projects are most important to you.

I tend to not choose projects that will happen anyway, or that have straightforward milestones. Right now, for example, my main project is to deliver my Lumos Your Life course, and the four milestones this month are to schedule the two Gryffindor lessons and two Hufflepuff lessons.

Because these milestones will fit into my routine naturally (with the unbeatable accountability of my students relying on their lessons!), I’ve selected another, smaller project instead.

I’ve listed some ways I can freshen up my blog content: updating my About page, updating my Start Here page, decluttering my calls to action, and updating the homepage letter (so look forward to those!)

P.S. If you’re purchasing your own Passion Planner, use code XANDRA10 to get a 10% discount.

P.P.S. To get a monthly peek at my Passion Planner pages and receive my free ebook, A Spell for Feeling Well, sign up here!

This lesson is filed under RAVENCLAW for using logic to tackle your to do list in a more intelligent fashion.

Play Audiobook

Be my pen pal!