A new way to do a paper to-do list.

Meredith Paige Avatar
Two paper to do lists side by side - one with items crossed off and one with items erased

Note: This is only for paper (not digital) to-do list enthusiasts.

My to-do list often looks more overwhelming than it is by the sheer number of words on the page.

Some tasks are tiny (“Venmo Cindy”), but they loom as large as bigger projects (“Change banks”), by taking up the same amount of real estate on my list.

Crossing off items also leaves tons of visual clutter that annoys me and makes me feel busier than I really am.

So here’s how I solved this – #4 is my new addition:

Step 1: All to-do items go somewhere on my paper calendar, even if they’re not “technically” due at that exact time.

Step 2: Time-sensitive items I’ve promised people (“I’ll get back to you by Friday”) are written on the exact date with a box around them.

Step 3: Meetings and appointments also get a box around them (I use a digital calendar but transfer the meetings to my paper calendar on Fridays when I plan my upcoming week HT to Laura Vanderkam – planning on Fridays helps highlight my upcoming week’s “rush hours” so I can rearrange conflicts if necessary.)

Step 4: New addition: All items are now written in pencil. And once they are done, they are not crossed off but erased.

Caveat: I erase “lightly,” so if I have to look back on info from a previous week, I can still “see” the item (albeit faintly).

As things are cleared off, the list looks less and less overwhelming.

Not exactly life-changing, but most definitely mood-boosting.

Friends of this blog get a free copy of my book Drift: How to (accidentally) create a life you don’t want. Go here: paigespage.net/drift/
(use passcode: friend (all lowercase) and share with someone you know who might be drifting.

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