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I understand what it’s like to have huge to-do lists that feel overwhelming. In this post I share a hack I use to prioritize my large to-do lists so I can focus on what matters.
When you take on a new project your to-do list can easily become unmanageable. Bullet journaling helped me to get in control of my to-do list. It wasn’t just the act of bullet journaling that did this but I implemented simple techniques which helped prioritize my tasks. Now I can easily pick out the most important things to tackle first.
Multiple To-Do Lists
First of all, I have a few different to-do lists. In my bullet journal, I keep lists for:
- Tasks to get done at work
- Tasks to get done on my blog
- Work tasks that need to get done “some day”
If you want to see many other lists you can keep in your bullet journal, here are 145 examples of collections and lists for your bullet journal
A Large “Some Day” List
I have the large “some day” list where I track all the things I need to get done at work even if they are not something I need to do right now. I tend to be forgetful so I need to write these things down.
It is important that I don’t write all of these things on my day to day to do list because it could easily become multiple pages. When your to-do list is very long, it’s useless. If you’re anything like me, at that point you will find yourself spending more time reading your to-do list than actually getting things done!
Daily or Weekly To-Do List
Instead of focusing on all the things every day, I keep a daily or weekly to-do list. Usually this means I start the week with a list of things I should get done in the near future. From there I do one of two things.
Sometimes I pick the one to three items I need to get done and add them to my daily to-do list. I like to do this the night before so I do not have to spend time getting overwhelmed by the giant list. In order to figure out what’s most important, I had to learn to prioritize.
I read a few excellent books that helped me to get clear on how to prioritize since at times it seems everything on a to-do list is equally important. I highly recommend them.
At other times, I keep a larger list of items I need to get done in a week. Keep in mind that I do not put everything from my large list on this weekly list. I only include the things I need to accomplish in the coming week.
This list might fill a whole page. This list can look overwhelming, especially if it is not in order of priority.
I used to try to write the list in order of priority but it was too hard to do and I found myself wanting to restart my list over and over again. It also made it difficult to add higher priority items that came up during the day. Did I rewrite the list? Did I leave spaces for things that might come up?
What a waste of time.
I came up with a simple way of managing this in a bullet journal.
How To Identify Priority Items On a Large To-Do List
My bullet journal’s to-do lists are written in black pen in list form. I often start with a bullet in front of each item so I can easily see where the item starts and easily mark items complete when I am finished.
Everything kind of looks the same.
In order to prioritize, I use a colored pen to make a colored dot in front of the one to three items I want to make sure I complete that day. The colored dot does not add any unnecessary clutter to my bullet journal page, yet it is easily noticeable.
In the following picture, I used a pink metallic pen to create dots in front of my top three blog tasks. You will notice I have two dots connected since the items are related. I also have two dots in front of one item.
Two dots indicates this needs to be done before anything else. This is my number one priority. In the book The One Thing, one learns that there are certain tasks that, if done, help to knock out a ton of other tasks. This one helps take care of a lot of my goals.
Why I Don’t Highlight The Entire Line
I don’t highlight the entire line because it ends up looking messy and chaotic. With the dot method, I can cross out the dots in black when I finish a task and then add new colored dots to signify the next important tasks.
With a highlighter, I’d have to use multiple colors or a lot of crossing out of things and it just looks messy.
One of the things I like about the bullet journal is that it is visually appealing (hence the cute little unicorn).
I hope this simple hack will help you manage your to-do list. For more tips and hacks for using your bullet journal, sign up for my email list by entering your email below: