Procrastinate the Smart Way: How to Prioritize and Complete Your To-Do List


Ah, the dreaded “to-do list.” Whether it’s a mental list running through your head, smudged notes in ink on your hand (we’ve all been there) or a list actually written down on paper, a packed to-do list can be daunting. And with the help of everyone’s favorite flaw, procrastination, the tasks can end up unfinished or pushed aside in lieu of new distractions. It can be hard to focus on what’s important; for the longest time, I was a complete procrastinator. But over time, as the school years got harder and more hectic and I realized how much stress I was causing myself, I managed to find ways to plan and complete my to-do lists more effectively. Here are three tips that will help you tackle that to-do list step by step.

Write your tasks down in more than one place.

For example, I write all of my class assignments that I have to do for the week, in my planner, on my wall calendar, and on my phone. Having these tasks in multiple places where they’re accessible serves as a good reminder. Sometimes I look at my wall calendar more than my planner and sometimes I check my phone more often, so it helps to have all my bases covered. And physically writing a list/crossing off tasks is great motivation. There’s nothing worse in life than laying in bed at night and realizing last minute, that test you were supposed to study for, is the next morning.

Making overreaching to-do lists should be avoided.

Yes, we all have a ton of things to do, but don’t overcrowd your list. Planning to accomplish more than a couple major tasks in a day usually doesn’t work out well. Prioritize your tasks for the day; think about what can be done in pieces and what needs to be finished in one day. Those 50 math problems due in the morning and that English online test have to be done that night, but that research paper project due in two weeks doesn’t. So, do the problems and the test, then do a little bit of the paper, just 15 minutes or so. Don’t be unrealistic with your list; more likely than not, you’re not going to do the pile of homework, write the entire paper, do laundry and go to the store in one afternoon/evening. You’d become one of those crazy-eyed caffeine nuts who hasn't gotten sleep in months; it’s not healthy, it’s not effective and besides, you need Netflix time.

Think of projects on a piece by piece basis.

If it’s the two-week research project, allot 20- 30 minutes of research daily for the first weekend then 20 minutes of writing for the second week. These short bursts of time won’t create the feeling that you’re doing a tedious assignment and they leave room for other tasks and leisure as well. The paper will be done by the due date and you’re not up until 4 am writing and considering jumping off a bridge.

So, those are few tips for making and completing your to-do list. And trust me, an effective daily plan can seriously change your life- both academically and socially.

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