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The Power of a Well-Crafted To-Do List

Creating a master list is the first step to combating symptoms of ADHD, says master organizer Judith Kolberg. Use this time-management system to turn your stagnant to-do list into a daily action plan.

10 Comments: The Power of a Well-Crafted To-Do List

  1. Hi guys,

    Need a bit of help. Just yesterday I was going through a video on my phone and I have lost it. It was by a lady expert, about an hour long, where part of what she explained was how to “not just motivation but activation”.

    Can anyone help me find that video?

    Appreciate it,

  2. I’ve tried every one of the suggested apps, lists, systems and attitudes discussed here and elsewhere. I agree with penguindrooster. The only time I get things done is when I am hyper-focused on one thing. I have so many apps on my phone and computer to “help” me that have not worked because I cannot keep up the updating. I have expensive electronic pens with paper that syncs with my computer. That is gathering dust, of course. The help I’ve gotten here is to know I am not alone, not the only person with this committee in my head screaming at me every waking moment unless I am meditating or buried in a project with singular attention. I co-own a real estate firm and am starting an online business but cannot take the first steps some days!! But I’ll keep trying because that is what we do!

  3. You lost me the moment you went down the to-do list road. Nothing throws me into greater overwhelm than a to-do list. In my experience it’s the least effective way to get things done with ADHD. I typically cannot finish making the to-do list if I break everything down into discrete tasks. It short circuits my brain. Also one of the major components of ADHD is the challenge with executive function. We struggle to prioritize and weed out what is truly important. A long to-do list is a recipe for disaster. Frankly I’m surprised this advice is offered here.

    Instead, I focus on the bigger picture OUTCOMES I am aiming for. I take all the little items and ask “what’s the result I want here?” And in that, I can usually find a better way that bypasses many of the tasks. There’s a difference between getting things done and getting the right things done. Getting out of to-do lists to focus on what’s truly important helps me get results, not just “get things done.”

  4. This article makes me want to blow my brains out. I can’t keep track of one list let alone three or four with different information on each one. I would last three days, max.
    Do you have something tailored to those of us with a serious case of ADD?

    1. Some of the apps mentioned here: https://www.additudemag.com/mobile-apps-for-adhd-minds/ — like Todoist — are great at helping you organize and prioritize one list. I like Wunderlist as well. Some folks find just telling Siri to remind them of _________ the easiest way to make tasks and time.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  5. I use a similar method as Smam60…a bullet journal that lives at home and is my master list for the day, along with a calendar and a to-do list app on my phone. One thing that has helped greatly is time-blocking my day. I have the days of the week across the top of my bullet journal and times of the day down the side (i.e. 8am – 9pm). Each morning I draw a box for anything I’m scheduled to do (work, appointments, dinner, exercise), as well as – and this is VERY important – time to get ready/gather things I need and travel time to/from. Once those things are blocked in, I can really see the available time in my day. I can then decide what I have time to take care of (phone calls, errands, projects… maybe even something fun?). It is little bit more work than writing out a simple to-do list, but I’m more organized and productive when I take the time to do it this way.

    1. DanaB, I love the idea of creating a box for each thing. Sectioning things off in some way really seems to help me isolate them. Thanks for sharing your method!

  6. Love many of your ideas here, and its so true about making sure we schedule time for the everyday routines – I started doing this with a habit tracker and for the first time realized just how much time they take! One way I diverge from your system is that I do use a paper based bullet journal thst neverbleaves my home as my main gathering place for my lists, and complement it with electronic devices. My journal is colorful and creative and pretty and totally my own design, which seems to alleviate the problem with boredom and vast numbers of unused pages that I realize now was why I abandoned every other system I tried to use. I have tried electronic, and though it is more “practical” the reality for me is that going back to paper and pens (colorful pens, because color energizes) has resulted in a system that has had a huge positive impact on my life this past year! Its something to consider for those that have tried electronic lists and find themselves losing interest.

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