Using Paper

To make a scheduled to do list with paper, you’ll want two pieces of paper: one to itemize and estimate and the other to schedule.

First, though, why should you use paper, especially if you track all of your to dos on your computer?

I personally find that writing my tasks down commits me to them in in a way that I don’t feel committed to when I have them on my computer, and provides an easy way to reference them without switching to the right program on the right device. Because I aim to have no more than 10-12 tasks per day (maximum!), the time spent writing them down is minimal and the reward is invaluable.

If, however, you work better on a computer, the next section provides an Excel spreadsheet which will guide you through the process.

If you’re doing it via paper, write down all of your tasks on one piece of paper. Then go through each task and estimate the time required for each task.

Finally, take your other piece of paper and at the top left write the time you plan to start your day. Next to it, write your first task. Add the task time to your start time and write that time on the next line, followed by your next task.

For instance, if you started at 9:00am and your first task will take 1 hour and 30 minutes, write 10:30am as your next time with your second task next to it.

Repeat this until your entire day is scheduled.

An alternate approach for scheduling is to use a day planner or printed template which has all of the times of the day already written, and you can simply write the task into the appropriate slot. This is particularly useful if you are trying to align tasks to your fluctuating energy levels throughout the day and it’s not as simple as scheduling your most important tasks first.