If you’re the kind of person who reads about how to be productive, you’ve probably heard a lot about to-do lists. There’s some good advice out there, and a lot of opinions about the best (and worst) ways to use lists. At Orosound, we think the best strategy is the one that works for you.

There’s something great about feeling productive. You enjoy work more and you feel more accomplished. And somehow, it’s like inertia: the more productive you feel, the more productive you’re motivated to be.

So next time you have a daunting project ahead, try this to-do list strategy to make that inertia work in your favor:

  1. Think of the biggest thing you want to get done today (or over the next few days).
  2. Break that thing up into the smallest baby steps you can think of. Write each step down as an individual entry in your to-do list. For example, if you want to publish an article today, your list might look something like ours:
  1. Look at the full list and ask yourself whether you will realistically have time to work on another thing.
    1. If so, break it down too and add all the individual steps to the list.
    2. Repeat this step until you have a complete list of small tasks that need doing. If it’s too much for that day, break your list into manageable day-sized pieces. Do NOT let yourself add in a bunch of small tasks that you don’t realistically think you have time for. Be honest with yourself. If in doubt, don’t add it.
  2. Add your day’s schedule into your list for today. Include all your meetings, lunch, and breaks.
  3. Get started on those baby steps, and check them off as you go!

By including only your commitments and your biggest goals for the day, this kind of list helps you focus on getting the important things done. Breaking them all down into baby steps makes the big things seem easily manageable (it’s easier to come up with 3 topics than to write an article all at once), and it also lets you check off lots of things over the course of your day (that’s also why you should add in things like “lunch with mom”). If each step feels easy to do, you can get yourself to keep going.

Now go get back to that project you’re working on! Good luck!