How to create a to-do list you’ll follow


When you’re working for yourself, it’s important to be your own boss. No one else is going to check up on you to see how your projects are going, if you’ve gotten started on an assignment and if you need help.

As entrepreneurs, you have to rely on your to-do list to keep you accountable.

Here are some tips to crafting a to-do list that will help you reach your goals, make you feel accomplished and prevent burnout:

 Pick three things

Everyone says that when creating a to-do list, you have to prioritize. If you have a list of 20 things that need to be done, you’ll feel too overwhelmed to even begin tackling them.

Decide what your priorities need to be and pick three things that contribute to those priorities. You have to be ruthless and choose the three that make the most sense. For example, if you’re growing a freelance writing business, pitching articles every day is more important than updating your LinkedIn profile. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it – it just means you have to make finding work a priority.

Be realistic

We would all love to superheroes, but the truth is, that’s reserved for the Avengers. You cannot accomplish 3 hours worth of work in 2 hours. What you can do is be realistic about how much time you might need.

Setting a timer for each task is also a great way to make sure you stay focused and don’t daydream while you’re working. Follow the step above to pick your most important things, set a timer for each activity and stop when the timer goes off (or earlier). If you have to write an article that usually takes you 30 minutes, don’t give yourself 15. If you’re trying to become a faster writer, try shaving off 5 minutes at a time.

Create daily goals based on bigger ones

I struggled when creating my daily to-do list. There are so many things you can do to grow your business – how do you pick?

A friend of mine told me to create a list of big goals and to figure out the small, daily items you’d need to accomplish to make them happen. Like if you want to grow your business, you probably need to pitch a few assignments every week to make that happen.

Make a list of 3-5 big goals that you have for your business. It also helps to have a timeline of when you want them to happen. Three to six months is usually sufficient time to see major changes.

Once you’ve gotten your big goals down, break up each goal into regular activities that you can do to accomplish them. For example, if your goal is to get a piece of yours published in a magazine, the smaller goals would be researching magazines that fit your niche, finding a relevant and unique story idea, creating a spreadsheet with email addresses of editors and creating a query letter that works.

Once you see the smaller steps you need to take, it’s easy to craft your daily tasks.

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