5 Ways to Write a Better To-Do List

In the spirit of spring cleaning, it’s time to organize your notebook.

Whether it’s in a notebook that lays open on your desk all day or digitally saved in an app, your to-do list more or less dictates your day. For the sake of your productivity—and your sanity—get it organized with tips from a few super-productive people, Ivanka included. 5 Ways to Write a Better To-Do List

The Skill Set: How to Write a Better To-Do List


1. Set priorities

“The first thing I do when I sit down at my desk is open my notebook and write down the top three to five things I want to accomplish during the day,” says Ivanka. “Once I know my priorities, I focus on accomplishing them as quickly as possible before the rest of the day's distractions start popping up." 

2. Go digital

Download any.do. It has a simple layout, you can drag and drop tasks as due dates change and it syncs on all your devices—plus, you can create multiple lists for personal, work, groceries and so on.

3. Create a symbol system

If you prefer an old-school, analog approach, you’re in good company. “I’ve tried a lot of different things, but I find that I really like to write things down,” says Ivanka. “I have a whole system of symbols that denote how timely each item on my to-do list is.” Play around with check boxes, bullets, dashes and other symbols to create your own system, and make a key on the first page of your notebook to denote what each symbol means. Ryder Carroll, whose note-taking system inspired Ivanka’s own to-do list ritual, suggests putting an arrow next to a task on yesterday’s to-do list, to denote that you’ve moved it to today’s list. 

4. Start fresh each day

Amanda Steinberg, founder of DailyWorth and co-founder of WorthFM, rewrites her to-do list every day based on what she did and didn’t get done the day before. “I reorganize the list based on my priorities,” she says. “It’s one of my little ceremonies in the morning.” 

5. Color code based on topic

“On my digital calendar, I color-code each entry based on topic—Trump Hotels, construction, acquisition, design and so on,” says Ivanka. The same goes for your notebook. Use highlighters to color code by topic. It’s also a great way to keep track of how you’re spending your time—you’ll see at a glance if your to-do list is overwhelmingly covered in certain colors.


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Image Courtesy of Ivanka Trump