What you SHOULD put on a To-Do List

Now that you know what time-killers (life-suckers?) should not be on your To-DO list, what should you put on them?

Well, that depends. If you have a job that is filled with projects, deadlines, meetings, client interfacing, etc. then you need two To-Do lists; One for work and one for personal. Do not commingle the two.

A good rule of thumb; Leave your “home” work away from the office, and leave your “office” work away from home. This also helps grow and solidify a good family life (more on that topic in a future post).

I have distilled two great philosophies on To-Do lists (maybe three, if you count the “To-Don’t” topics). They are as follows:

  1. Set your To-Do lists with 1-3-5 objectives
  2. Only include items that are S.M.A.R.T.


1-3-5 Objectives

A To-DO lists could be a daily log, a weekly log, or a monthly log, depending on what the project it. I recommend you take a blank page from a desk calendar mont-at-a a glance (or print one out from your favorite calendar software tool). Then set up daily To-Do items that, when accomplished, could fill in a whole week. Set up weekly items that can cover a large project (with a month-long deadline). Further set items up one a daily basis, with 1 big project, 3 smaller, and 5 no-brainers.

As a business example, your may have a single day with the following 1-3-5:

1: Finish that travel expense report (1 big project)

3: Contact vendors for quotes (3 smaller items)

5: Delete, respond to, or forward 5 emails.(5 no-brainers)

As a home example, try this:

1: Fix that broken kitchen cabinet hinge

3:Pay two bills, unsubscribe to 1 nuisance email service.

5: Find five items to take to Goodwill.

PS: You don’t have to limit it to 1-3-5: it might be 1-5-9, or 2-3-5. Resist the temptation to go ridiculous with something crazy, like 5-24-105. That’s why you have a month-at-a-glance calendar, so you can split it up over a longer period.

S.M.A.R.T. Items

SMART is an acronym for your goals. Valid goals belong on a To-Do list if they can be accomplished, and are of merit. These goals must satisfy the rubric of the acronym, namely they must be:






If you can categorize your goals as S.M.A.R.T., then they are worthy of accomplishing, and belong on your To-Do Lists


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