What’s the best way to capture a to-do list?

Welcome to 31 Days of Timesaving Tools, Tips & Templates!

Today, we’re going to focus on the ubiquitous To Do List.

Best Way to Capture a To-Do List | strategysarah.com | #31timesaversAt it’s best, a to-do list saves time by focusing your efforts, ensuring that you don’t need to re-do key tasks, run additional errands or miss deadlines.

At it’s worst, a to-do list becomes a weight that ties you down to arbitrary tasks and causes more work than truly required.

The only to-do list that is going to work is the one that you decide is going to work and commit to fully. Unless you are all in, it won’t last.

There are endless tools to capture to-do lists and manage projects (some of which we’ll get into in the coming days), but the most simple is a blank document – either physical paper or a blank digital document in any software system you choose.
That said, there are systems that have more of a chance than others, and that comes down to knowing yourself.

Some key questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you tend to have more success with paper or digital systems?
  • If you aren’t trying to follow a system, how do you remember things? Some typical examples:
    • Off the top of your head (not sustainable)
    • Post it notes / scraps of paper
    • Digital on a smartphone / in an app
    • Digital on a computer
    • A combination of the above

The bottom line: Don’t over-complicate it.

Find a way to capture to-dos that you will use consistently.

Personally, I’m currently having the most luck with Evernote.

Here’s how to create To-Do List using the Evernote template:

  • Start with an Evernote template with my to-dos categorized into key areas.
  • Each week, I copy the template to a new note, write down my to-dos, and add a reminder to the note so it’s pinned to the top of my Inbox.
  • At the end of the week, I clear the reminder, and file the note for reference. (If it was a particularly unproductive week, I may just change the date in the title of the note, or copy the entire thing, leaving all the yet-to-be-done tasks).

I’ve created a shareable Evernote Weekly To-Do List Template* for you to adapt. Sign up at the bottom of the post to access this Evernote template.

*If you’re using the Evernote web browser, once you’re signed into your account, you’ll need to hit the “Save to Evernote” button on the upper right. You won’t be able to edit on this screen though. Rather non-intuitively, you need to go to your Evernote main page / dashboard, and the template will be in your Inbox notebook as an editable note.

(Bonus tip: This can also be copied and pasted into another document system, such as Google Drive, a Word document, etc)

Today’s time-saving assignment:

  • Make a simple to-do list for this week using a piece of paper, blank doc or my Evernote template above.
  • Pick the top six items that must be accomplished.
  • Complete your top six items.
  • Give yourself a huge pat on the back, and do something fun and fulfilling with your time saved!

This post is part of 31 Timesaving Tools, Tips & Templates.  

11 thoughts on “What’s the best way to capture a to-do list?”

      1. Hi Sheila,

        Once you’ve created your Evernote account, you’ll hit the “Save to Evernote” button on the upper right. Then, rather non-intuitively, you need to go to your Evernote main page / dashboard, and the template will be in your Inbox notebook as an editable note.

        If that doesn’t work for you, let me know and I’ll troubleshoot some more!

  1. This is perfect! I’ve never quite gotten the hang of using Evernote, but I think it’s about time that I do! Thank you! {visiting from write31days.com}

    1. Darlene – what challenges have you had with Evernote? Is there anything you’d like more info or direction with? I’ve got a few Evernote-specific posts in the works and would love to make sure they’re super helpful!

  2. Hi there! Came in from #write31days 🙂 I am the post-in note queen, but trying to get away from that. I downloaded evernote but didn’t even give it a test run before deleting it. I may give it another try!

    1. Samantha –
      Thanks for visiting! There are days that call for post-it notes! I find that I still have them myself. I find the key is to make sure I have some larger structure in place so the post-it note isn’t the main thing I’m relying on regularly.

  3. I’m really looking forward to this series. It’s one of those that you have to bookmark for future reference and revisit when things start to unravel again!

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