A daily to-do list I’ve stuck with for 6 months. Might work for you too.

I came across the 1-3-5 to-do list on the great productivity/creativity blog 99u (a lovely, quick daily read if you’re a productivity/creativity nerd like me).

Here’s how it works: The method assumes that every day you have enough time/energy for 1 big thing, 3 medium things, and 5 small things.

For me, I approach assigning the size of a task with both how much time it will take me and how much energy it will take. Some things that won’t take long but I’m absolutely dreading might be a 1. Some things that take a bit longer but are super easy and fun may be a 5. There’s lots of room for personal customization in this system.

So, everyday I write down


and draw up my daily list.

On the schedule for today:
1 Music night (time with friends counts too!)
3 Read Engaged City Task Force final report, and draft a response
3 Lunch with Meriko
3 Draft notes for an AGM I’m taking part in next week
5 Move notes from my desktop into proper files
5 Review a pile of old articles from my Masters research for potential blog posts
5 Scrub bathroom floor
5 Go for a run
5 Reply to an internship applicant who wanted feedback on their interview/application

Some days I don’t get everything done — I’m exhausted or I have an unexpected visitor, etc. So some things carry over into the weekends. Unless absolutely necessary, I try to not to schedule work-like things (basically anything that requires me to be at a computer) for the weekends, but if I’m not as productive during the week, I might have to.

Alternatively, sometimes I get more than the list done. Today for example, I had a phone call with Port Coquitlam mayor Greg Moore to talk about a potential event for Canadian Women Voters Congress. I also wrote this post, which is actually something I meant to do yesterday.

My daily to do list is one of the few things that I keep on paper. Here’s what a week of to do lists looks like (the few notes at the top are *ahem* carry over from a lazy end to the week last week):


I draw all of my to-dos from my big MASTER to do list, which I keep on a free online tool called Workflowy. More on the amazeballs that is Workflowy in another post.

Some people start their weeks looking at their master to-do lists, and choosing 5 big things, 15 medium things, and 25 small things to do throughout the week. you can find templates for this online if you search for it. I like more flexibility.

How do you coordinate your to-do lists?