Are you a regular to-do list maker? Is one of your favorite emotions brought on by the satisfaction that you feel when you can finally check off another task from your list? To-do lists are wonderful for helping you stay organized. However, all of us stand guilty of having a few things on our to-do lists that just never seem to go away. Big tasks that we really don’t want to do seem to continually get pushed lower and lower in priority on the list. Here are a few ways you can make those avoided to-do items more unavoidable:

Break it down. If you really want to make progress on your to-do list, then you’re going to have to learn how to set reasonable goals. If you look at the list and see, “Write 10-page research paper,” it’s likely you will instantly feel overwhelmed and move on to the next item. You will be much more likely to get a ten page paper done if you break it down into simpler steps. For example, you could put on the list: 1) Find five academic sources for research paper 2) Write thesis sentence for paper 3) Write paper outline 4) Write intro paragraph (and so on).  See how much easier the task of writing a 10-page paper will seem if you break it up into smaller chunks of work?

Get specific. After you break down list items into more manageable pieces, you will be able to make each point even more specific. The more specific you are in your list, the faster you will be able to get things done. Let’s look at a few examples. If you have on your list “get oil changed,” you can add more detail by putting “get oil changed at Jiffy Lube at 8 a.m. on Saturday before going grocery shopping.”

Or going along with the previous example about writing a paper, instead of just putting “find five academic sources for research paper,” you could write “find three books and two articles about topic x using the online library system. Check out books and copy articles.”

The more specific you are, the more likely you will be to get the task done and not be overwhelmed by it.

Give yourself a reward. Even though checking something off of your list can be a reward in itself, why not give yourself even more motivation by setting a bigger reward? How about, when you finish that 10-page paper you get to meet up with your friends and go out to dinner? Or maybe when you’ve finally done all your cleaning, you get to relax and watch a movie? There’s nothing like a reward to give you the motivation to get that entire list finished. Just make sure that your rewards are reasonable and aren’t teaching you bad habits.

About the Author
Natalie Clive is a writer for My Colleges and Careers is a great online resources for students who wish to earn a college degree from one of the best accredited online colleges around. By earning a degree, graduates will be better prepared to enter the workforce and have a successful career.