12 Create Daily To-Do Lists

Now that you can see the big picture of your semester and weekly priorities, the next step is to create a daily to-do list. You can use your smartphone, a paper planner, or your Outlook account to track your tasks. Do what works best for you.

Here are some principles to consider when creating your to-do list:

  1. At the end of each day, take a few minutes to plan the following day.
  2. Write down each task you want to accomplish. Note which tasks are the highest priority.
  3. Break large tasks into smaller chunks. Consider what you’ll accomplish in one work period (usually 1 hour).
  4. Create tasks that are well-defined; you should know when the task is finished.  For example, instead of “work on my research paper/assignment”, change it to “find three academic articles for my research paper” or “create my paper/assignment outline”.
  5. To increase your sense of accomplishment and create forward momentum, check off tasks as you complete them.
  6. Move any tasks yet to be completed to tomorrow’s to-do list.

Keep your To-Do List somewhere you check regularly, such as your smartphone home page or desktop screen.

Today’s To-Do List

Goals Time Priority Done
Read chapter 9 for biology 45 mins High
Draft thesis for communication paper 1 hr Low
Find 3 peer reviewed  sources for paper 1 hr Moderate

Try it!

For the next week, commit to making a daily to-do list.

  • Use a paper planner or your phone.
  • After trying this for a week, re-evaluate what worked for you.
  • Make any changes needed.

Extend Your Learning

Want to explore further ways of managing your time? The following links have more information and helpful templates.


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