It’s common to look at your to-do list and wonder where to start. With so much out there, choosing a starting point each morning can be difficult, not to mention stressful.
By using the Ivy Lee method to plan your tasks, you’ll know exactly where to start each day. And when paired with the simple Microsoft To Do checklist layouts, you’ll end up with a solid task management process. Want to know how? First, let’s dive into a brief explanation of the Ivy Lee method.
What is the Ivy Lee Method?
The Ivy Lee Method is a great way to take the stress out of daily planning. Here is a brief overview of how it works:
- Write down six tasks each night to focus on the next day.
- List them in order, placing the highest priority items first.
- The next day, go through your list and check off items as you go.
- If you finish your list, avoid adding more tasks – maybe use the time to catch up on smaller things or to relax.
- Anything left on your list, put it off until the next day while you write your new list.
The idea is that you will know exactly where to start the next day and what task comes next. If you compare Apple Reminders, Google Keep and Microsoft To Do, you’ll notice that they all offer a checklist format. But the latter seems to be destined for the Ivy Lee method, thanks to its My day And Tasks list views.
You might be wondering what happens to all your other tasks, the six that aren’t on the daily list. My day and my tasks work together to keep things from slipping through the cracks. My Day is your daily list and Tasks is for everything else. You can call it your backlog.
Create a backlog in Microsoft To Do
A backlog is where you store all of your tasks. It might seem a little chaotic, but there’s no need to be too specific. Think about work tasks, chores, and projects that aren’t part of your daily routine. For example, proofreading a report or writing a marketing proposal, not checking email or doing the dishes.
When you discover the task, you add it to your backlog where it won’t be forgotten, won’t be a distraction, and will be easily accessible at all times.
The perfect place for your backlog in Microsoft To Do is in the Tasks tab. You’ll find it in the sidebar on the left. Creating a to-do list here is as easy as typing in the items you want to include in the add a task field and pressing Enter.
If you want to add more details to the tasks, click on the one you want to expand and a right sidebar will open. Here you can:
- Add the task to your My Day list.
- Create reminders.
- Give your task a due date.
- Repeat it, making it a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or custom recurring task.
- Categorize your tasks.
- Attach a file.
- Write a note.
You don’t need to be too detailed, but you will want to include enough information about the task to remember the details later. This is especially important for items that may stay in your backlog for a while.
Once you’ve listed all of your tasks, you’ll use your backlog to plan your daily to-do list.
Write your daily to-do list in Microsoft To Do
Just like the backlog, Microsoft To Do provides the perfect place for your daily list, the My day tongue. You can find it in the left sidebar at the top. It’s important to remember that your list will automatically clear once the date is changed, so you won’t want to move items around when choosing what to do the next day.
Instead, when reviewing your backlog items, click the star of the six items you want to work on.
In the morning, click on the tasks you want to move and select Add to my day do this. They will also remain in your backlog or in the Tasks tab with the label My day. When Microsoft To Do clears all unfinished items, you can find them quickly, thanks to the stars you placed on them earlier.
Granted, it would be easier if your list didn’t thin out at night, but it gives you time to review your tasks in the morning and also make a fresh start each day. Within your My day , you can click and drag items here to prioritize them. You can also review certain items in your backlog by clicking Hints in the upper right corner.
When you check a task, you can find it in the completed section of your Tasks tab. Additionally, you can activate the completed smart list in your settings – the gear in the top right corner of your screen – to show your completed tasks in the sidebar.
You can find a different number of tasks that suit you. Don’t panic if you can’t find six a day, especially if you know you won’t finish that many.
Smart Lists to Use Alongside the Ivy Lee Method in Microsoft To Do
There is many productive ways to use Microsoft To Do. Along with its simple to-do list layouts, Microsoft To Do offers smart lists to help you stay organized and get things done. These are especially handy if you want to keep extra lists of reminders, ideas, or random things to keep from cluttering up your to-do list or backlog.
Here’s what they do:
- Important– clicking the star next to any item marks it as important. Microsoft To Do then rounds up those tasks in the app’s Important tab, so you can find them all in one place. This is especially useful if your order book is long and you want to find your favorite items quickly.
- Foreseen—Microsoft To Do also collects all items that you date on the Scheduled tab. Here you will find your tasks in groups such as Today, Tomorrow, Next weekAnd Later.
- Assigned to me: If you’re collaborating with other people in Microsoft To Do or Microsoft Planner, you can also view the tasks they’ve delegated to you here.
- All— this smart list displays all the tasks you create in Microsoft To Do.
- completed—a place for all your completed tasks. Once you check an item, you can find it here or in the completed section of his list.
If you don’t want any of these to appear in your sidebar, you can turn them off in your settings under the gear icon in the top right. Additionally, you can auto-hide empty smart lists and hide sidebar titles of connected apps—Planner And Email flagged.
The ability to hide what you’re not using puts more emphasis on the features you’re using. This way you only pay attention to what’s most important and tasks are less likely to be overlooked or forgotten.
Prevent tasks from falling through the cracks with Microsoft To Do
Microsoft To Do almost gives the impression that its developers had the Ivy Lee method in mind. Its Tasks and My Day tabs combine to give you a seamless daily list that will make planning easier. If you need to take your to-do list on the go, just download the mobile app. Even better, Microsoft To Do is available for free with a Microsoft account.