How to Write Task Lists Optimized for Productivity

Morgan Danielle
Dec 29, 2019 · 3 min read

There is a fatal flaw in your plans for productivity and success.

Take a look at your latest bullet journal spread or to-do list. Are there items without description other than a cue word like workout or guidance to ‘work on ___”. This could be what’s been holding you back from tackling your to-do lists with ease.

Using the Phrase ‘Work On’ is a Fatal Flaw in Task Planning

Using the phrasing ‘work on’ leaves an open-ended task. Same when you use just a cue word without real context. In your mind, you may understand what you meant. However, when in action you have left yourself without structured guidelines.

The problem with this is the utter and complete lack of direction and specifics involved in a task that only has one parameter — ‘to work on it’.

Obviously, you’re going to work on it. But what are you going to do with it? When are you going to be done with it? What actually satisfies these tasks so you can feel accomplished and move on to the next task?

When you fail to give yourself specifics, you fail to allow yourself to complete anything.

Here’s What To Ask Yourself When Planning Tomorrow’s Tasks

Follow this simple task list to ensure you are coming up with clear tasks you can easily follow (and complete).

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • When would I like to accomplish it?
  • Why am I doing this?

An example of a task following with task planning questions in mind:

Complete line edits for two chapters of my novel by 11 pm tonight.

An unclear, useless task that will either be ignored or done improperly:

Edit novel.

Why You Should Write Clear Tasks

Woman writing tasks in notebook
Woman writing tasks in notebook
Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

By analyzing your tasks for the day you are being sure to set yourself realistic and measurable goals. Remember being taught about SMART goals. They’re back and more useful than ever.

Writing clear tasks will help you garner a sense of accomplishment. When you broaden your tasks you keep yourself from completing anything as it can always be worked on further.

For example, using the edit novel example. Unless you tell yourself to only edit two chapters you could feel the need to edit until you’ve edited the entire thing.

When you put parameters on your tasks you are more likely to finish the task, feel satisfied with your work, and give yourself the appropriate time to accomplish more on your to-do list.

Other Task Planning Tips

Writing in bullet journal
Writing in bullet journal
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

You’re on the path to creating SMART goals, but is that really all it takes to become more productive? Check the following productivity habits for task planning to ensure you set yourself up to check all the boxes each day:

  • Only assign yourself five tasks for the day
  • Give yourself thirty minutes at the beginning of each day to knock out short, pesky tasks
  • Keep daily and weekly chores off of your to-do list
  • Complete a time audit once a month to monitor for lost time

Nobody is the perfect task planner and not every system will work for every person. Trial and error will lead you to the best system for your needs. But keep these tips in mind for a general outline to optimize your task planning efforts.

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Morgan Danielle

Written by

Orlando-Based Creative | Copywriter, Content Writer, Author

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +724K followers.

Morgan Danielle

Written by

Orlando-Based Creative | Copywriter, Content Writer, Author

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +724K followers.

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