Published in For Teams

How to-do lists help boost productivity

By Anabelle Zaluski


6 min read

Whether you’re an A-type organizational whiz or a self-proclaimed procrastinator, to-do lists help you complete tasks and achieve goals. They’re a simple yet powerful tool that makes task management a breeze by enabling you to prioritize and sequence items based on urgency, importance, and dependencies. 

We'll discuss the benefits of using to-do lists and provide tips for creating effective ones. We'll also compare the pros and cons of daily versus weekly lists and offer templates for every need. 

Why should I use a to-do list?

In today's ever-distracting world, staying organized and focused on professional and personal goals is more important than ever. To-do lists help you do just that. They’re essential for managing tasks and prioritizing assignments for individuals and teams.

Here are a few benefits of using to-do lists:

  • Increased productivity — by creating a to-do list at the start of each day or week, you can identify your most pressing tasks and tackle them first rather than wasting time on less important ones. Focusing on the right things means you’ll complete projects faster instead of wasting time on irrelevant distractions. 

  • Saved time — creating a to-do list means you always know what to work on, and when, saving you the time it takes to figure out the next steps. Outline time expectations and realities at the start and end of each task to optimize your time management skills.

An illustration of files peeking out of a box
  • Reduced stress — to-do lists provide a clear roadmap to your goals. Decluttering your work environment and organizing all tasks in one spot gives you more control over your workload. This, in turn, reduces stress and anxiety.

  • Improved organizational skills keep track of tasks and assignments to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Add, edit, and delete items by using a digital to-do list app and set notifications and due dates to ensure important deadlines aren’t missed.

  • Better collaboration — by sharing lists with your team, you can coordinate tasks, assign responsibilities, and keep everyone informed of progress. This project management hack improves communication and reduces confusion between team members.

  • Increased accountability — to-do lists offer the opportunity to clearly define tasks and responsibilities, which helps increase accountability and ensure everyone pulls their weight.

  • Boosted motivation — visualizing progress as you cross off completed tasks is a powerful motivator, which can provide momentum. 

4 tips for creating a to-do list

To-do lists are only a game-changer for productivity when they’re done right. Here’s how to make a to-do list that works for you, not against you:

  1. Consider dependent tasks — every useful to-do list begins with brainstorming. You’ll consider everything you hope to achieve in a set amount of time (typically a day or week). To help you prepare properly, define subtasks and task dependencies. For example, a subtask concerning cleaning the house might be dusting,

    and a dependency of completing weekly food prep might be grocery shopping.

  2. Prioritize — once you’ve written down all your tasks, create a timeline that considers each item’s importance and deadline. Separate urgent tasks which need to be addressed immediately from important ones which must be completed, but maybe not right away.

  3. Break down tasks into smaller items — large tasks can be overwhelming. It's helpful to break them down into smaller, more manageable items. You’ll also notice progress more quickly, which boosts motivation. 

  4. Be specific — create detailed tasks to ensure you know what’s required for each item. For example, instead of "write report," try "write marketing report for the quarterly earnings meeting on Thursday."

Daily versus weekly to-do lists: Which is right for you?

Both daily and weekly to-do lists can be beneficial for productivity. Choosing which of the two is right for you means considering your goals and schedule.

A daily to-do list might be a better fit if you often have daily deadlines and a predictable schedule. You’ll be able to address each day’s projects and avoid missing short-term due dates. Consider creating a recurring to-do list for regular tasks. This saves time and effort by automating the process.

If you require more flexibility regarding when you complete tasks, you might prefer a weekly to-do list, tackling items as you find free time throughout the day.

And when in doubt, of course, you can use both. Creating a weekly to-do list and breaking down each item into daily tasks will help you complete both short and long-term goals on schedule. 

Start strong with a Notion template

When you first start out, writing to-do lists is overwhelming. It’s difficult choosing tasks to prioritize and estimating deadlines. Beginning with a to-do list template can help you get started by becoming familiar with the structure. 

Notion offers a variety of easily customizable templates for creating to-do lists online. From the ultimate bucket list to a prioritization to-do list, there's a template for just about everything. Customize one of our most popular templates and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from ticking those boxes.

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