Organizing Your To-Dos

Someone had once asked me about how I organize my to-dos and keep them in check (see what I did there?), and I thought it would be useful if I also shared my thoughts with you all, whether you are a techie or more old-fashioned!

For the technologically-inclined folks out there, there are a plethora of options available for you to take advantage of. Some of the (free!) smart phone applications I’ve test driven include:

  1. Handle
  2. Wunderlist
  3. Any.Do
  4. Todoist
  5. Reminders (Native to iOS)

Why to-do apps make me happy:

  • You can take your lists everywhere with you
  • Your lists can sync across your devices
  • Editing and rearranging tasks is easy — no white out or erasing necessary!
  • Scheduling reminders for specific tasks is super easy

Some perceivable drawbacks, however, would include:

  • Potential crashing or other technological difficulties
  • Some apps can get a bit complicated
  • There is no tangible joy of being able to physically cross of a completed item on your list (Or am I the only one who experiences this?)

If you’re like me and are more of a hand-written list kind of person, I would suggest putting all of your to-dos in one (preferably bound) notebook. That way, you can take your notebook with you everywhere you go, instead of having to keep track of loose Post-Its or random pieces of scrap paper.

To prevent having a huge master list of all of your tasks, it might help to categorize your to-dos. You can separate them according to person (i.e. Mom, Dad, Me) or functional area (i.e. School, Work, Home, Personal). Or, you can sort tasks according to when you want to have them done by. I sort my tasks by date, because that makes the most sense to me.

Why hand-written to-do lists make me happy:

  • Writing down a task gets it out of your mind, but also solidifies it in your memory
  • You don’t have to worry about technological difficulties
  • It is more appropriate in a professional setting
  • You can achieve the ultimate personalization: your organizational system can be as simple or as complicated as you want

Drawbacks for hand-written lists may include:

  • Less portable
  • Can’t schedule reminders for time sensitive tasks

For my personal to-dos (and academic to-dos while I was still in school), I use a combination of apps and hand-written lists: I write down tasks into my planner according to the date I want them done by, but if the task is time-sensitive, I will input a reminder for that to-do into my phone the week before. If I don’t finish a task by the end of the week that I had written on my planner, then the task gets rolled over to the following week.

Because I am very date-oriented, I combine my to-do list with my daily planner. I purchased these super cute planner pages from iHeartOrganizing’s Etsy store, and I absolutely love them! They’re a digital download, and so you would need to print these pages out on your own. I still love it though, because I’m not restricted to the traditional planners where I cannot add or replace pages wherever I want.


For larger projects or way-in-the-distant-future tasks, I write those down on a separate page that I reference a couple times a month. If I think I will have the chance to complete one of those items, then I will write it in the perspective week.

Once in a while, I like to try new productivity/to-do list apps that come out, but in the end I always come back to my trusty planner. What you ultimately end up doing is up to you and your personal preferences!

How do you organize your to-do lists?

Now that you have a great to-do list, how can you ensure that every item gets crossed off? Stay tuned!


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