Time management Monday: How to use your planner with Master Lists

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To-Do List

I only recently started using master lists. Previously, I kept all my lists on my weekly or monthly pages in my planner: weekly for things that had to be done in a particular week, monthly for reminders of things that needed to be done any time that month.

But lately I’ve had a lot going on, so I started making categorized master lists. Now I have lists of things I need to do for each work project; holiday preparations; home projects, etc. I’m finding these types of lists 1) help me see the chronological progression of next actions, and 2) help me realize what all the steps are.

Karen told me she works from a master list on a Word document that is five pages long (single spaced!) which she adds to and checks things off from every day. She reviews the list often and picks out things to work on, and adds them into her schedule.

The key with a master list, as with any task list, is to work the tasks into your schedule. When you look at your master list, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the large number of tasks in front of you. Pick out which tasks you can do sometime this week, and which ones you can do on particular days, and write them into your schedule. Getting your tasks written into your schedule hugely increases the likelihood of them actually getting done.

The danger of master lists is that because they can be long and intimidating, it’s tempting to put them away and ignore them. By looking at them often, and moving tasks over to your daily schedule, you’ll be able to systematically work through your tasks on your master list over time.

6 thoughts on “Time management Monday: How to use your planner with Master Lists

  1. More details, Laurie! At the very least, please explain why the page in the photo is creased down the middle! 🙂

    Many thanks for your persistence in searching for answers to the questions I have!

    • Hi Nancy, unfortunately I don’t know why the page is creased down the middle. I didn’t use my own photo because I don’t like to use photos of my own personal details.

      • Also, to expand a bit more: I think everyone uses master lists differently, and it takes some experimentation to figure out how they’ll work best for you and your circumstances. Like I said I like to have categorized master lists, because I would get overwhelmed if I saw work tasks mixed in with home and personal tasks. But some people like working from one big list where they can choose the highest priority item to do next and go from there. Whatever works for you. But the important thing is to make sure your tasks get worked into your schedule! Otherwise your Master List becomes a Things You Ignore list. 😉

      • Ah, I see! Thanks. And, yes, I hear you re: the list of things that never get done. I have a few of those…

  2. Great tip and I whole-heartedly agree – and just began implementing this. I had only kept a master task list until I created a ‘Files’ section in my planner that acts like a filing cabinet. I then have 4-tabbed sections of categories with corresponding pages containing lists, etc. under each. This way I only have 1 divider and it keeps my planner from getting too bulky. I do my weekly review every Sunday afternoon which includes looking at these lists.

    • Making it a habit is a great way to make sure your lists get reviewed regularly! Thanks for sharing your system with us Elena.

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