Today’s post is sharing an easy and effective productivity hack. Using a free printable daily to-do list template to get your most important tasks done each day. Without getting sidetracked or overwhelmed.
You’ll learn a planning strategy to help you reshape your to-do list using the free printable template. Helping you easily figure out what takes priority on your to-do list. And what is most important to do first.
It’s the perfect way to start using your time efficiently and stop feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list. Helping you prioritize your time and the tasks on your to-do list in a realistic way. So you can not only focus on doing what matters most, first. But also so you can plan your day and be realistic about what you’ll be able to accomplish each day.
To make it even easier, you can download a free printable daily to-do list template to put this productivity hack into action in your own life! The free printable gives you a blank daily to-do list template you can customize to suit your schedule, needs and lifestyle!
Realistic expectations for your to-do list
When you’re making a to-do list and planning your day, it’s important to remember to be realistic with your time and what you can accomplish.
There will always be more than you could or feel like you should, do. And your to-do list will never stop growing because of it.
So it’s important to remember that finishing everything that could be on your to-do list isn’t realistic.
Instead, focus on prioritizing, deciding what matters most and focusing on doing those things first. That way, instead of trying to do it all, you’ll be focusing on doing what matters most right now.
Prioritizing what’s important, time-sensitive and a priority also helps keep your to-do list realistic. Helping you balance what you need to do, want to do and will realistically be able to do in a day.
When your to-do list isn’t realistic, it’s easy to end up feeling discouraged, defeated or like you’re failing when you don’t get everything done. But identifying your priorities for each day and focusing on those things first helps you know you’re doing the most important things and doing the best you can each day.
Stay focused with a prioritized to-do list
Not only that, but a clear and prioritized to-do list makes it easier to stay focused on what you need and want to accomplish each day.
Giving you more clarity about what’s most important to do. As well as helping you stay organized and use your time efficiently to do what matters most.
A prioritized to-do list is also a great way to map out your day to make sure it’ll work for you. And that you’ll be able to do the most important things.
Start with a brain dump
My favourite way to make effective and prioritized to-do lists is to start with a brain dump.
A brain dump is simply getting everything you’re holding in your head (reminders, tasks to do, events, activities, etc.) out of your head so you can start planning and organizing what you need to do.
I like to use a pen and paper for my brain dumps. And simply write down anything and everything I’m carrying around in my head. Things to do, tasks, reminders, events, etc.
Don’t worry about keeping it organized or pretty at this point. Just get it out of your head and down onto paper.
Once you’ve written everything down, then start organizing it. Note what is time-sensitive or what you need to do by a certain date or time. Start figuring out when you want to do each task that needs to be done. Label anything really important you want to make sure isn’t forgotten. Cross off things that don’t matter or you can let go of.
Once your brain dump is done and roughly organized, it’s time to start figuring out your priorities for each day.
Identifying daily priorities
After doing a brain dump, it’s easy to see that not everything you wrote down is of equal importance or priority.
Identifying your priorities and what’s most important, helps make sure you can focus on those things first. Rather than getting bogged down doing busy work or less important tasks and not getting the important things done.
Not only does identifying your priorities help you focus on what matters most. It also helps you make sure the things you’re prioritizing align with your values, goals and priorities.
Your priorities and most important tasks on your to-do list each day don’t only have to be work or task-related.
Your most important priority one day might be spending quality time with your kids or someone you love. Choosing to make that your most important priority rather than getting the vacuuming done or working on a specific project.
It’s important to remember that you get to find the balance between doing the work, chores and tasks you need and want to do. And making sure you’re also living in a way that aligns with your values, goals and priorities. And remember, that balance might be found over the course of a week or month, not every day.
Remember, there will always be more that you could be doing. It’s ok to choose rest, play, connection, etc. as a priority some days too!
Daily to-do list template: identifying your top 3 priorities
When you’re making your daily to-do list, start by identifying your top 3 priorities for the day.
Ask yourself, if you could only do 3 tasks today, which would be most important and essential for you to feel like the day was successful?
Rather than focusing on everything you could do or wish you could do in a day, start by identifying these top 3 priorities. The things you’ll focus on doing first because they are most important.
After identifying your top 3 priorities, you can list a few other tasks that would be nice to do if time and/or energy allows. But you’ll only move on to them after your top 3 priorities are done. Your time and energy will go to what matters most first. Helping you focus on what matters and keeping your to-do realistic.
Individual tasks, not projects
In order to keep your to-do list realistic, your top 3 priorities should be individual tasks, not big projects.
And they also shouldn’t be things that are part of your daily routine that you do each day.
For example, unloading the dishwasher is something you do each day and likely isn’t one of your top 3 tasks. But scheduling dentist appointments for your family, washing the floors or writing a report for work might be in your top 3 priorities.
It can also be helpful to have a separate list for work and for home. Helping you focus on your top 3 priorities for each role.
Use the free printable daily to-do list template
The free printable daily to-do list template available HERE is the perfect tool to put this planning strategy into action! Helping you focus on what matters and prioritizing what’s on your to-do list.
It has a section identifying your top 3 priorities for the day. Followed by a section for other tasks to do if time and energy allow after completing your top 3.
It also has sections for your daily routine tasks to help you keep up with those habits as well. Along with a section for appointments, meal planning, notes and a grid to record habit trackers or other trackers for the day too!
Click the image below (or click here!) to download a FREE copy of this daily to-do list template now!
Another great way to structure a prioritized to-do list is using the “1-3-5” method.
Instead of identifying 3 priorities, the 1-3-5 method has you identify:
- 1 big task you want to accomplish that day (the most important task)
- 3 tasks of medium importance (the next most important tasks)
- 5 tasks of smaller importance (the little things you want to do that day)
This is another great way to focus and prioritize your to-do list. Remembering that you’ll never get everything done. But instead, helping you make a realistic to-do list and focus on doing what matters most first.
Taking action vs staying busy
Focusing on your top 3 – 5 priorities each day is a great way to focus on doing the most important things each day. Rather than staying busy with other less important tasks, feeling like you’re being efficient and productive. But not actually getting the most important tasks done.
If you’re someone who often finds yourself procrastinating, a prioritized to-do list can be particularly helpful. Helping you focus on the most important things first, rather than putting them off and staying busy doing other less important things.
If there’s something on your to-do list you need to do, but don’t particularly want to, it’s usually best to get it done sooner, rather than later. If you don’t want to do it today, you likely won’t want to do it anymore tomorrow or the next day either.
Putting it as one of your top 3 priorities and getting it done is a great way to get it over with, out of the way and out of your mind!
There’s a saying attributed to Mark Twain that says, “If you have to eat a live frog, do it first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.”
Basically, it means if you do your least favourite task first thing in the morning, you can get it over and done with first. Instead of thinking, worrying and procrastinating about it for days or weeks!
Daily to-do list template & planning strategy
I hope today’s post has given you some actionable steps you can take to start prioritizing what’s on your to-do list. Making it easier to do what matters most each day.
Using this daily to-do list template has been a game-changer for me. Not only helping me stay organized and focused each day. But also helping me identify what is a priority to do each day so I do the most important things first. Rather than just staying busy but never feeling fully productive and in control of my time or to-do list!
Do you think this productivity hack and planning strategy will be helpful for you? Leave a comment and let me know!