Daily Task List Overwhelming? Here’s What I Do!

daily task listDoes your daily task list get overwhelming at times?  Mine does.

There are just so many hours in a day and every day there seems to be an avalanche of new tasks that come up.

Here is a method I use to help organize, prioritize, and take control.   I  call this my “ Five Point Star” method, here’s how it works…

I start with 2 lists:

1. Start by keeping a log of all your incoming tasks and projects that need to be worked at some point.  These aren’t things that you can immediately get done but want to put them on the back burner to get to later.   I prioritize these tasks based on importance and I label each as a short, medium or long term task.

2. Today’s ‘to do’ list. This consists of 5 tasks.   3 tasks are things I can get done within 1-2 hours. 1 task is something that will take maybe 4-6 hours to complete and 1 long term task would take a week or more to complete.

Because I know that I can realistically only focus on up to five things a day and still hope to do a good job, I’ll grab 3  items off the the log in #1 that are labeled short and only after I complete those 3 items will I move on to the other two.

The reason for only three small tasks is that there are a lot of normal daily interruptions that can eat up your time.  Even a one minute phone call can set you back if you have to stop a task and then deal with figuring out where you left off when you stopped to answer the phone.

But here’s the real payoff to this method.   If every task is listed and ranked on a running log I can then forget about them until they float to the top of the five item TO DO list.   As I complete a task I will scratch it off of that day’s list and will replace it the next morning.

It’s important not to replace anything until the next day so that you don’t change the day’s priorities.

Don’t take anything off the master list until it is transferred onto a daily ‘to do’ list.  Conversely nothing comes off the daily ‘to do’ list until the task is complete. This could mean that your medium and long term items will be on your daily TO DO for quite a while.

Occasionally a task will come up that supersedes the list of ‘to do’, for instance if something catastrophic happens like  your computer dies or something of that nature.   These things are rare but when they occur “reset” your five item list and add back onto your log the items that were displaced.

By keeping a log I can “park” incoming tasks until I can schedule them for work.  By parking these tasks I don’t have to deal with them right away and I won’t be feeling so overwhelmed.

It’s a simple but effective strategy that works for me.   How do you deal with your daily task list?



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  1. Very nice guide Liz.

    I’m kind of a person who wants to finish the thing in the day it supposed to be done. But many times I find it a difficult task as there are always some “distracting factors” kicking in. I see your way to keep organization is really great. I’ll try it soon :)

  2. Apart from my detailed to-do list I always maintain a short to-do list for the day. I use the ‘Do It Tomorrow’ extension on my Chrome which only has today and tomorrow in a diary format for me to fill out tasks for just 2 days. I usually add up to 5 tasks for each day!

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