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To-do lists are a simple – yet essential – way to organize your life. You can scribble one down on paper during a meeting or use smartphone applications to meticulously organize your day. However, while writing down a handful of tasks to complete is easy enough, using these simple to-dos to improve your task management abilities requires a bit of knowledge and strategic writing.

The Basics of a To-Do List

At their most basic, to-dos are a simple iteration of tasks that you’d like to complete in a given time period. Most people use them for daily tasks, but you can also use them for longer-term goals like moving to another country. Regardless, simple to-dos have a handful of basic components that make them excellent tools:

  • A Time-frame: most to-dos have a given time-frame in which your tasks need to be completed (e.g. by the end of the day or week).
  • A series of simple, actionable items: the core of your to-do is a number of simple and actionable items that you can easily accomplish. In general, the number of these items should be proportional to the amount of time that you have to complete them.
  • Ordering and Prioritizing: even on the simplest of to-dos, you should order any items that need to be completed sequentially, and you should prioritize important tasks.
  • Necessary Features: while pen and paper might be sufficient for a personal, everyday to-do, you should generally use online applications to track progress on a longer-term project, and those online applications should have capabilities that match your intended purpose. For example, if you’re making a couple’s to-do, then it should be shareable among multiple persons.

Using Technology for Your To-Dos

One of the best ways to make and utilize simple to-dos is through smartphone apps. These programs can be shared among many users and can even push notifications for upcoming events. All devices come with business software built-in, and you can also download third-party applications that suit your needs.

iPhone: Reminders and Notes

iOS includes two applications that can be easily utilized for making simple to-dos. Notes enables you to create to-dos by adding checkboxes before items, and Reminders can push notifications for individual items. In general, a reminder is good for time-sensitive, one-off items, and a note is best for longer to-dos.

Android: Memo, Calendar, and Google Apps

Androids also feature a slew of their own productivity applications, including memos and calendar. Like Apple’s Notes, Memo enables users to write out a to-do with check boxes beside each item, and like an Apple reminder, Calendar can push notifications of certain events to users. Androids also heavily integrate with Google, which offers a number of applications like calendars and shared to-dos.

Third-Party Applications

Third-party applications are incredibly useful both for everyday to-dos and to-dos focused on particular goals. This type of software allows users to create backups of their to-dos and utilize specific components that are useful for planning certain events or goals. One focused on a niche like Christmas to-dos, for example, would have options such as gift logs and decoration planning to maximize users’ ability to successfully complete projects.

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