5 Unorthodox To-Do Lists to Amp Your Productivity
Work + Life Balance

5 Unorthodox To-Do Lists to Amp Your Productivity

by Jherell Drain
February 08, 2016


Picture this: You arrive at work on Monday morning with what seems like hundreds of tasks running through your head. Finish this report. Start that next project. Remember to (somehow) drink 8 glasses of water.

Then, one of two things happens: either you let all those to-dos run rampant in your head or, if you skew on the Type A side of the spectrum, you write down every one of them into a single nightmarish list. Disorganized multitasking is stressful but so is a seemingly endless task list. Regardless of your approach, your sense of optimism begins to waver—and any signs of productivity vanish. 

It’s probably time to rethink your approach. To make the most of your day, with your sanity intact, we’ve got a great hack: divide and conquer.

Because your life shouldn’t—and can’t—be summed up in a single list, consider writing five instead. It may sound like you’re making your life more complicated, but we promise, it’ll actually get you organized. Here's how:


Having more than one job will inevitably leave you with a never-ending to-do list. Keeping every project, assignment and action item in check may prove harder than expected. By creating a separate list for each of your side hustles or every one-off project, you’ll make it easier to shift your focus from one job to the next, all the while staying organized. Set aside a time each day to run through each list, alloting more time to the projects that are the most time-sensitive (or time-consuming). If necessary, set calendar reminders to switch between lists, thus preventing yourself from going down one side hustle rabbit hole at the expense of another.

Pro tip: Are you looking to add new potential side hustles to your list? Check out these suggestions


Maybe you work in an office and need to remember to drink a few glasses of water during the day, or you work from home and need to remember to get up and get out every now and then. Either way, remembering to take care of yourself is important and often gets overlooked in favor of other priorities. Give your health its due by adding those priorities to your daily to dos. Some items on your list can include: filling up your water bottle every hour, getting up and moving around after finishing an assignment, taking a walk during lunch, meditating during an afternoon slump, etc. 

Pro tip: Combat work anxiety by adding light yoga or meditation to your daily to-do list. 

By creating a separate list for each of your side hustles or every one-off project, you’ll make it easier to shift your focus from one job to the next, all the while staying organized. 


You know that imaginary pat on the back that you give yourself after you’ve accomplished a goal? Try putting it in writing, instead. Tracking your own accomplishments, in whatever facet of your life, will not only elevate your mood but also increase your productivity. Did you finally respond to all of your emails from last week? Write it down. Did you successfully manage to check off every item on one of your previously mentioned lists? Take note. Your sense of productivity is bound to surge afterwards. This is also a great way to keep track of the line items you’d like to include in your pitch for a promotion or raise (whenever that time comes)

Pro tip: Keep tabs on your accomplishments at work by writing them down in a work journal. Then, don’t forget to celebrate– you deserve it!


Whether they’re long-term or short-term, we all have goals. For some of us, our mental list of goals grows every single day. In order to keep track of those goals—old and new—write them down in a special place where you can find them. Plus, having a physical list means you'll remember to not only add more when you think of them, but also check in on previous goals as necessary. And don’t limit the list to big picture items. If your goal this month is to set aside $100 for a vacation, include it. That way the little things won’t slip through the cracks.

Pro tip: New year, new goals, right? Instead of merely making a list of goals that may never get accomplished, try creating goals the SMART way.


Now, we’re not talking about your average to-do list (been there, tossed that). For this specific to-do list, just add action items that need to be completed that day. These items should include what exactly needs to be done (write blog), who will help (ask Jherell for quotes), what time it should be completed (before noon) and any other necessary details.

Every night, review your list and make sure nothing’s left unfinished. Then write tomorrow’s list before you leave the office so it’s there waiting for you the next morning. Add anything unexpected that comes up to the list when it comes up. 

Pro tip: Are you a morning person? Whether you already are or just would like to be, try these 8 things that every productive morning person does before 8 a.m.

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What other lists do you make for peak productivity?