How to Follow-Through on Your Intentions: Start by Tossing Your To-Do List

Is your to-do list formal or informal? Do you keep it in your head, on paper, on your computer or on your phone? Does it work for you?

Regardless, it’s time to improve your work process by getting rid of your to-do list.

A more effective strategy is to schedule your to-dos in your calendar. Consider each item on your list and confirm that it’s an actionable task. Then, decide when you can really get it done and block out a specific time in your calendar to do it.

People often create to-do lists based on projects. However, scheduling items into your calendar based on the type of task is more effective. For example, if you have several tasks that need to be done on the computer, slot these items together into one larger block of time at your desk, even if you’re switching from one project to the next. Similarly, if you have multiple errands to run, clump them together into one driving time block.

At the end of each day, review your tasks and address any items that didn’t fit where you thought they would that day. Reassess them, using the Ds test:

Does this task need to be:

  • Done now – Face the task and push yourself to knock it out today
  • Delayed – Reschedule this item to the next open slot in your calendar or, if needed, rearrange your other tasks to fit this one in sooner
  • Delegated – Identify who could get this done for you and schedule in your calendar the task of handing this item off to the right person
  • Deleted – Is it really that important if it keeps getting punted? Would it be ok to let it go?

Calendaring your to-dos can prevent you from overextending yourself. When you have to find a time slot for each activity you agree to, you can clearly see whether or not you can add in another task. You might delegate tasks sooner if you see that you can’t fit it in by the deadline. Also, be sure to schedule in brain breaks and movement activities throughout the day to keep your mind sharp and your body energized.

Reframe your approach to your to-dos: make a “date” with your action item as if you were tending to a relationship and don’t “stand them up.” By following through on your intentions, you gain a feeling of accomplishment and integrity. So utilize use your calendar fully and pitch your to-do list!

My current book project is Breakthrough to Action: Transforming Inspirations into Implementation. Stay tuned for much more to come about following-through on your personal and professional goals. 

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