Monday, May 23, 2016

A To-Do List for the Time Management-Challenged



God's Words:

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace...  But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.  ~1 Corinthians 14:33a & 40

Commit to the Lord whatever you doand your plans will succeed...  In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.  ~Proverbs 16:3 & 9

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.  ~Proverbs 19:21

Back in January I was getting really sick and tired of being overwhelmed with everything I had to do each week and struggling to manage my time well most days because it just seemed like there was always way too much to do and I wouldn't know where to start.  So I figured it would help my self-diagnosed Adult ADHD/Seriously Ridiculous Case of Mom Brain to keep a to-do list going from day to day and week to week.  But I wanted to find a free printable list template that would motivate me to actually use it, so I scoured Pinterest and the internet at large.  Guess what I found?!?


Nothing that suited my needs and what I was looking for in a printable to-do list.  Sure, there were lots of cute list templates.  And many were free.  But nothing that would work for me without having to tweak it quite a bit.

So of course I had to create my own template, and over the past 5 months of trying it out every week and working out the kinks, I find I absolutely LOVE using it and it has made my weekly schedule (and my family's life as a result) so much more organized and peaceful.

And now I am ready to share this unique, one-of-a-kind To-Do List template with the world. 

So, are you ready for your life to be more organized in an amazingly simple way that is extremely easy to keep up with?  Well then, turn your printer on, grab a pencil, your calendar, and get ready to finally get your life in order!

The photo at the top of this post shows what a completed week's To-Do List looks like, but don't let it overwhelm you.  I will walk you through the steps I invented and it will all make sense soon, I promise.

1.  First of all, you'll start with a printed out copy of the To-Do List template.  I designed 7 cute color combinations that you can choose from.  I have uploaded them as public documents on my Google Drive and they are free to use, download, print, and share!

If you want the most basic style that won't use up all your printer's color ink, then go with the To-Do List in Grayscale:

There are also 6 color combination template options, if you'd prefer your list in cute colors.

You can use the To-Do List in Nautical Blues, which looks like this:

Or here is the To-Do List in Coral:

We also have the To-Do List in Purple & Green:

Or you could choose the To-Do List in Summery Colors:

Or you may like the To-Do List in Red, Blue & Yellow:

And this last option is the To-Do List in Pretty Pink:

So there are your 7 color options.  Go ahead and print off the one you like, then come on back for the next step.

2.  Ok, now grab a pencil and your calendar.  And a cup of joe, if the mere thought of organizing makes you tired and you need a caffeine jolt like I always do.

Before we proceed, I'd better explain why I have designed the To-Do List to start with Monday as the first day instead of Sunday.  Well, I personally view Sunday as part of the weekend and my typical day of R & R, so I like to have my list start on the first day of the work week.

If you'd prefer to have your To-Do List start on a different day of the week, simply download the template to your computer, save as a Word document, and then you'll be able to edit the days of the week at the top.

And speaking of starting on Monday, that's the day I usually write out the new week's To-Do List.  It's part of my Monday morning ritual.  Fun, fun.  No really, I enjoy writing up my new list for the week.  The cute colors and boxes help make it more fun and I'm not kidding.  I told you I needed my list to be cute. 

3.  Ok, back to what we were doing.  As you'll see, there are 7 boxes for each day.  Why only 7?  No real reason other than the fact that I couldn't fit more boxes on the page.  And having 7 particularly important things to do each day seems like plenty, wouldn't you agree?

But before you write anything down, first prioritize in your mind the things you absolutely have to do each day and then write them down with the most important being #1, the second most important as #2, etc.  You don't have to fill in all the boxes.  I usually have only the first five or so boxes filled in.

Now, what exactly are we supposed to be writing in the boxes?  Not the little things you do every day, such as shower and brush your teeth.  Those are a given and obviously we don't need a reminder to do every single little thing we have to do every day.  But rather, the boxes are for writing down the particular or special activities or jobs you have to do at some point that day or week, such as make the bank deposit, meal planning, grocery shopping, exercise, pick up the dry cleaning, etc.  And the boxes are also for writing down the activities that absolutely need to take place on a specific day, such as taking your son to his martial arts class on Monday and Thursday, or making a dish for the potluck on Saturday.  You get the point.

So, again, whatever has to be done first - more than everything else - that goes in the #1 box for each day.

Then the things that you'd like to get done, but aren't a top priority, can get listed in the lower boxes.  And this is where my To-Do List gets really cool and why it's so unique!  But I will have to save that explanation for the next step and then you'll see why this list is so awesome.

For now, let's focus on filling out the To-Do List for the week.  So you'll want to start out by writing in the top boxes for each day the things that need to be done for each specific day. So, for example, if meal planning has to take place on Monday and you also need to do a workout that day, then those two activities should get written down in the top Monday boxes, in order of priority.  Then, if you have to grocery shop on Tuesday, then that goes in one of the top boxes for Tuesday.  And so on and so forth.

4.  After you are finished writing down the specific-to-the-day activities, then you can move on to writing down the things you'd like to get done that week, but don't absolutely have to get done on a specific day of the week.  Like picking up the dry cleaning at some point, and making the bank deposit, etc.

5.  So at this point, most of the boxes for each day are filled in with activities.  Some days are going to be very light, such as Sunday, if you don't have a lot of things to get done that day.  Or if you purposely want to keep a specific day more open with less on your plate.  I actually write "Rest" in a box for Sunday, because I like to remind myself of the importance of resting and making sure to get rejuvenated for the upcoming busy week.  It's fun to cross off that box!

6.  Now look down at the bottom of the To-Do List.  There you will see some cute boxes that are for listing the things you think of that will need to get done sooner or later, but do not need to get done that week.  They can be transferred to a numbered box on a future week's To-Do List.  Or sometimes you will find some extra time to get one of them done and then you should feel even more proud of yourself.  Bonus points!  But either way, you can jot them down here so you won't forget they still need to get done eventually!  I told you this list is awesome.

7.  Alright, now that your To-Do List is as complete as you can think of right now, it's time to place it somewhere in your house that you will see throughout the day.  Like on the fridge or on a bulletin board if you have one in your office or kitchen.  I like to pin mine up on the little bulletin board in my office, where I will see it first thing in the morning while I start my day with coffee and Bible study.

Sorry that the pic is blurry.  My iPhone camera does not take the best photos for some annoying reason.  But anyway, that's my cute little office bulletin board.  The shockingly handsome man in that photograph is my husband.  That's one of my favorite pictures of us from 13 years ago.  I love his blue eyes.  I could drown in them.

Didn't I mention my ADHD?

Ok, so what were we talking about?  Oh yeah, putting your list somewhere you will be able to see and access it often throughout the day.

8.  As you go through each day and complete another task, cross off each task's box with one diagonal line through the box.  You can look at the completed To-Do List sample photo at the top of this post to see what I mean.

9.  Whenever you weren't able to get a task done on a certain day and it's not something that can get added to another day's list, then cross of that task's box with 2 diagonal lines, like an "X".  That means that you didn't get to that task that day and you lost your chance to get it done at all, ever.  I do this with workouts and devotional times I didn't get done. Sure, I feel guilty while making that ugly "X" mark over my workout or devotional quiet time.  But you know what?  I'm not going to be legalistic about my quiet time.  If a day ends up being so busy that I didn't make time to read my Bible and pray, it's not the end of the world.  I can still spend meaningful time worshiping the Lord in other ways that day. Like listening to a Christian radio station when I'm out chauffeuring my kids around, or meditating on a verse I've memorized, or even praying while I cook dinner.  But usually, I do like to set aside specific time each morning to spend some time in the Word and in prayer.  Therefore, I like to have it written as my #1 top activity to get done each day because it's that important and I would ideally like to start out with this every single day. But then life happens.  No big deal.  Same thing with exercising.  I might start out the week aiming to do 5 workouts, but only end up doing 3.  Once again, not the end of the world.  Yet I still like to write it down on my weekly To-Do List to keep in mind to get done if I can.

Just like our second and third key verses for this post say, sometimes we plan out our day, but God has a different agenda for us in mind.  We have to be willing to submit to His sovereign will for us, even in the little details of our day.  Sure, I might not end up exercising on Wednesday because my best friend calls me spontaneously, asking if I can watch her kids for her while she goes to a last-minute doctor's appointment.  Something that is much more important might come up that then takes my time away from getting my workout done.  Oh, darn.

So the point is, we have to be flexible and willing to move things around a bit on our weekly To-Do Lists when life happens.  As it always does.

By the way, in case you were looking at my sample list and were wondering what "Devos" means, that is short for devotional time.  And "hs" stands for homeschooling.  And "W/O" stands for my workout time.  Now you know.

10.  Now for the part you've eagerly been waiting for.  If you look at my sample To-Do List at the beginning of this post, you'll see several arrows coming from traced-over boxes pointing to other places on the To-Do List.  I thought of using arrows for transferring a task from one day (when it couldn't or didn't get done, but still needs to get done at some point) to another day that might work out better for it to get completed.  For example, if I wasn't able to rehearse my church praise team music on Tuesday, I can trace over the dotted outline for that task's box and draw an arrow from that box to another day's empty box (which means I would try get that task done on that specific day instead).  Or, if I know I won't be able to get that task done this week, I can draw the arrow through the rest of the list all the way over to the right side of the page.  This tells me that I have to write this task down somewhere on the following week's To-Do List that I will fill out that Monday morning.

One of the best aspects of this To-Do List is that with just a quick glance, you can easily spot what needs to be done next for the day.  And as each day and week goes by, you will feel so accomplished and much more organized, which will add so much peace to your life. Your family will thank you, too.  When the wife and mother is calm and organized and at peace as she carries out all her many duties, the family will naturally be more calm and at peace as well.  You will be living out an excellent example of a peaceful and organized lifestyle for your children to follow.  And you will find that your spirit is more calm and you will be able to manage last-minute tasks that arise without added stress, knowing that you can easily put off a task you were planning to get done that day for a later date.

After all, what is most beautiful about a woman in the eyes of the Lord?

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."
~ 1 Peter 3: 3-4

When we possess a gentle and quiet spirit, we are more beautiful in the sight of God. That's pretty huge, because He already loves us unconditionally as it is.  I don't know about you, but I love making God happy and pleasing Him.  This is one very specific way we can please Him.  When we do what it takes to attain and maintain a calm and peaceful spirit and attitude in our lives.

This To-Do List has helped me grow more peaceful and has made my family's life much more calm in such a tremendous way over the past several months.  And I have discovered that making sure to keep my schedule organized and manageable has made me better able to sustain a more gentle and calm attitude, which was always a daily struggle for me before.

So I hope that using this To-Do List will bring about much more peace in your life too and help you better manage all the many different tasks you have on your plate.  Please feel free to share with me how you like using this To-Do List and how it has improved your life! I would love to hear how it's benefiting other families besides my own! 


  1. Suzy, I love, love, LOVE this! I'm going to start by printing out the summery colors version - reminds me of lemonade 😋! But I like all the options for colors to meet my varying moods. Thank you for the detailed description of how you have optimized this to really be a useful tool and not just another checklist. Thanks so much for sharing. I can't wait to try it!

  2. Thank you SO much, Andrea! I really appreciate your encouraging words! I hope the list has helped you stay more organized lately!! :D