I asked this the other week of my friend Marybeth Whalen. Marybeth and I worked together for a number of years. I was editor of a publication she regularly wrote for. Of all the writers for this publication, she was the most on-time and consistent of the entire group.
Did I mention she also has six kids?
And writes for other publications? And writes novels?
Marybeth described to me a two-list system she employs using a simple spiral notebook and a smaller notebook.
In the larger notebook she lists everything - absolutely everything she has to, or would like to, or is considering doing that month. One notebook per month and everything goes into here.
Then she takes the smaller notebook and she pulls tasks out of the larger one to make a daily to-do list. She makes sure just a handful of tasks goes on each day's to-do, paying attention to which ones are pressing or time-sensitive.
If she finishes her to-do list for the day quickly she'll often return to the large notebook and pull some more tasks onto the day's list. If she doesn't get to everything on that day's list, she turns the page at day's end and places the unfinished tasks on tomorrow's list ... then adds a few more tasks from the larger notebook.
Marybeth's method is simple and inexpensive - buy a stack of notebooks each year at the back-to-school clearence sales and you're good to go. Maybe get some colored pens on sale too if you want to color-code your tasks into "personal" and "professional" catagories.
Let's take a quick informal poll: How do you make your to-do lists?
A) On Paper (notepad, notebook, planner, scrap paper)
B) Electronically (in a computer software program, or with a phone app)
C) On the Wall (on a whiteboard or chalk board)
D) I Don't! (I rarely make to-do lists, or not in any consistent way)