The Right Way to Build a To Do List

Start every item with a verb to ensure it gets done.
July 30, 2013

Instead of writing down every thought that comes to mind on your to do list, break everything down to its smallest tasks. One simple principle to follow is to make sure every item on your to do list starts with a verb. TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) editor and contributor Dave Caolo writes in a guest post for Better Mess:

When I started working on this post, the first step was “brainstorm post.” That was all I had to do for the day. Next came, “write outline” and then “review outline.” While “write article” is a daunting task, 15 minutes of brainstorming is not.

Here’s a related tip. Action steps start with a verb. Brainstorm article. Write outline. Call Jane. Charge phone. Invoice Amy. In each example, it’s very clear what needs to be done. “New Hampshire road trip” is a project. “Buy map of New Hampshire” is an action step.

Execution appears much more straightforward when you have a good idea of the next actionable step—and action steps are important.

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Herbert Lui is exploring the intersection of art and entrepreneurship. He is a writer and specializes at content marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn, and see more of his work on Contently. He is the author of a free guide to building credibility online, titled Brick by Brick.

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