This is for people who can't seem to get everything done. Those of you who efficiently take care of every detail ahead of time don't need to read any further.

As a recovering procrastinator I have a great deal of experience with To Do lists. I've embellished them with multi-color highlighters, experimented with assorted list-making software, anything to keep from actually doing the tasks. Along the way I've learned a few tricks you may find helpful.

1. Make the List
Don't just let the have-tos rattle around in your head making you crazy. Actually write down all the things you're worried about getting done. Then you won't have to spend energy constantly remembering them. I like to start with one main list of everything on my mind in no particular order and then make subsequent lists. Another way is to use sticky notes. You can organize them into categories afterwards. Then I see that Rake Leaves, Move Lawn Furniture, Winterize Garden, and Do Yard Work all go together and aren't really four different things.

2. Prioritize
Ask yourself is it really essential? Is it something you want to do? Is the result something you want? Does somebody else think you should do it? If that person is the government, your doctor, or your boss it should probably stay on the hot list. But if not, consider setting it aside for now. You could end up with lists called Must, Would Be Nice, and Who Cares. Sometimes the act of placing an item on one list or another helps you determine its importance. Anything left on the Who Cares list at the end of this process gets crumpled up and tossed.

3. First Things First
Which items are time-sensitive? Are deadlines looming that you mustn't miss? Are downstream events dependent on completion of certain items? It's generally at this point that my anxiety level has subsided enough to unbundle the general headings into smaller pieces. For example Do Financial Stuff gets broken down so that Pay Current Bills goes on one list and File Bank Statements goes on another.

4. Low Hanging Fruit
Are there a couple of items that you can just take care of this second and then they'd be done? Make the phone calls, send the emails, put the ball in someone else's court. You'll feel great.

5. Find Out, Decide, Do
Look over your hot list and figure out what kind of action is required. Do you need to get information, make a decision, or just do it. Often an item stays on a To Do list because this step hasn't been addressed. Make sure every item on your list has a verb attached.

6. Treat Yourself
So you can't stall any longer. It's time to do the work. Make it pleasurable. Combine something you hate with something you enjoy. Listen to music while you wash the kitchen floor. Promise yourself a hot bath or coffee with a friend when the desk is cleared off. Have someone who truly understands what you've accomplished say congratulations with deep sincerity.

So that's the secret of my success. I'll always be a grasshopper in my heart, but I've come to appreciate a day to day sense of accomplishment. That surge of panic when I do something at the last minute has a certain appeal but it can't beat the satisfaction of crossing something off your list.

Author's Bio: 

Liz Sumner, M.A. is a Life Coach who specializes in care of the Self with a capital S. Are you ready to give your Self what you truly want? Try a free, 30-minute call. Find out more at