There’s nothing worse than being near the end of your work day and realizing you barely accomplished half of what you had hoped to finish for the day. But if you find this happens all too often, the problem may not be you. It’s your to-do list.

Here’s why it may not be working out for you, and how you can adjust accordingly.



Do you ever find that when you’re creating your to-do list in the morning, you feel like you can accomplish a hundred things? And then when you’re looking at that same list later in the day, you feel like morning-you was living in a fantasy land? This is very common.

If you often find yourself in a position where you are working since 7 AM to 10 PM with still several items on your to-do list, the problem is likely not your productivity or work ethic. Those few extra coffee breaks you took are not be the problem. You may simply have too much on your plate — or you are too ambitious when you’re setting deadlines for yourself.


Let’s be real: we all have multiple projects that we work on concurrently. Rare are the people who only work on one project at a time! Thus, your to-do list may be looking a bit crazy if you have all types of tasks associated with all types of different projects. Working through the disorganization may eat up time and energy that could be used to complete the tasks instead of filtering through them as the day goes by.


Not only are your tasks not properly organized, but if you have all tasks with the same level of importance shuffled in there in random orders, you may be doing yourself a disservice. Especially if you just go down your to-do list and complete tasks in completely random order. You may surprise yourself and end up with a super important task at the end of the day that isn’t complete.


It’s important to create better to-do lists not only because it will help you accomplish more in your day-to-day, but being able to accomplish more will play deeply with your self-esteem. That being said, here’s how you can create better to-do lists:


The first thing you should do when creating a to-do list is create separate sections based on the different projects you are working on. This helps create structure but also gives you a better idea of what projects you will work on throughout the day. This is especially important if you have multiple goals you are working towards.


Once your tasks are organized into different sections, it’s time to set priorities for your day. Scan through your to-do list and consider the following criteria for each item:

  • Seriousness: Which items are the most important ones you must check off your to-do list today?

  • Urgency: Which items need to be finished sooner rather than later?

  • Growth: Which items need to be checked off your to-do list before they grow and become unmanageable?

Based on these criteria, you should be able to prioritize which tasks need to get done ASAP.


You need to be realistic about how many tasks you can complete in a day but also how many hours you can realistically work and still produce high-quality work. There’s no point in working 14-16 hour days if all the work you do is of medium quality.

Every morning, go through your to-do list and estimate how much time each task will take. Any task that is not a high priority and which makes you surpass the number of working hours in a day for which you know you can realistically output quality work should be either cut off the list completely through delegation or pushed to another day.

The best practice here is to overestimate how much time a task may take you to do. It’s better to have some time left at the end of the day than be working overtime when you didn’t plan to.

Remember that the key here is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. If you need more tips on how to maximize your time, check out this blog post.