Revamp Your To-Do List in 5 Minutes Flat!

It’s come to my attention that my clients (and you too, dear reader!) are obsessed with air travel. They simply adore flying from here to there.

But what mode of transportation do they take off in? Airplanes? Helicopters? Private jets like the rich and famous? Maybe hot air balloons?

Nope. Their preferred method is to fly by the seat of their pants.

Bad jokes aside, we’re facing an epidemic of well-educated, creative, ambitious women who can’t seem to get a handle on their day-to-day tasks.

Every single thing is labeled “urgent and important,” and they’ll always squeeze in another project that someone dumps on them. And be sure to give them a hose because they’re busy putting out fires too.

What about their own needs? What about their personal white space?

In the words of Edna Krabappel, “Ha!”

All the stress, disorganization, and general frazzled-ness can be traced back to our overstuffed to-do lists. I love a good to-do list for keeping on top of projects and goals, but when they get to be 10 pages long (front and back!), then they cease being helpful.

Well, I say no more acting like a scatterbrained mess!

If you’re ready to stop flying by the seat of your pants, then let’s give your to-do list a much-needed revamping. And I know how busy you are so I’ll keep this short and sweet. 😉

You’re cleared for takeoff! Here’s how you can master your to-do list in no time at all.

The 5-Minute To-Do List Edit

If you don’t have 5 minutes to spare, then I don’t know what you do when you need to use the bathroom. Ew…

Minute 1

Pull out your to-do list, planner, calendar, phone, and anything else you use to organize the odds and ends of your life. Seriously, gather it all up.

If your to-do list is a heap of Post-It notes and scribbled-on bar napkins, then download a copy of my Ultimate To-Do List. This is the to-do list I use every day, and it also happens to be the most downloaded worksheet on my website.

Enter your name and email below to download the free worksheet. Part of the Editor’s Toolkit.

The Ultimate To-Do List one of dozens of free worksheets, ebooks, videos, and resources in the Editor’s Toolkit.

Minute 2

Be decisive and choose 3 main priorities for the week. Really think about what absolutely, positively MUST get done this week, and be honest! What can be delegated to someone else? What can be dropped altogether? What non-essential things can be put off until later even if it frustrates you to wait? What task will cause horrible consequences if it’s not taken care of this week?

Once you have your 3 main goals, write them at the top of a fresh piece of paper with plenty of space to write below them. Take the rest of your to-do papers and put them in a tickler folder for later (or never).

Ahhh…doesn’t that feel better to have a streamlined task list?

Minute 3

Break down each main priority for the week into all the mini tasks that lead to the final outcome and write them under the main goal. The more specific, the better.

If you need to do a presentation, then the mini tasks might include researching, writing an outline, creating a slideshow, sending a copy to your manager, practicing your speech, etc.

If you need to publish a blog post, then the mini tasks could be to choose a topic, write a rough draft, find and edit a photo, save it in WordPress, etc.

Don’t worry about putting the mini tasks in order (that’s coming up next), just do a brain dump and jot them down as quickly as you can.

Minute 4

Next, consider all the items under each main priority and assign 3 mini tasks per work day. It means one task per priority per day so that you make progress on all your important projects without getting burned out.

Put the mini tasks in order as they need to be completed so that everything’s wrapped up by the end of the week. Easy peasy.

Now I really mean it—no more than 3 tasks per day! The whole point is to lessen your stress and avoid a meltdown, m’kay? Three tasks is plenty.

Minute 5

Take a deep breath, set your intention for a productive day, and say a gratitude prayer. Focus on what truly counts, and let go of the other distractions.

You totally got this. You’re capable of soaring to new heights while still taking care of yourself.

Remember, the sky’s the limit!

How do you edit your massive to-do list?

This post focuses on Step 4 of the Life Editing Process, Rearrange Everything Into a Perfect Flow. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.

3 Simple Steps to Become a Productivity Superstar

Dump your excuses, transform your habits, and become the most productive person you know.


  1. Herdis Pala on July 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks for a great reminder Sage, I need to trim my to-do-list!

    • Sage Grayson on July 21, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Thanks, Herdis! 🙂

  2. Serena | Pretty Fluffy on July 12, 2014 at 3:33 am

    I don’t know what I loved more – the Simpsons quote or the advice! Seriously such a good way to break down the dreaded to-do list. I think we can all get so overwhelmed that we want to do everything and sometimes because of that, end up doing next to nothing.
    This is such a great resource – I love how you write and break things down so simply in such a fresh way.

    • Sage Grayson on July 21, 2014 at 9:11 am

      Thanks, Serena! You’re right, overwhelm can stress us out to the point of not wanting to do anything. Baby steps may seem slow, but it’s the only way I make progress.

  3. Jen on July 8, 2014 at 5:58 am

    First, it made me snort out loud when you quoted Edna Krabappel. Ha! Love it!

    Second, yours is my favorite to do list so far. I’m just getting started with it, but it helped me over the weekend get some stuff done. Very nicely organized. I like the way you’ve broken it down and pretty colors too. 🙂

    • Sage Grayson on July 21, 2014 at 9:11 am

      Aw, thanks so much, Jen! The Ultimate To-Do List is my favorite worksheet too.

  4. Rebecca on July 7, 2014 at 6:18 am

    I have been working with the ultimate to do list from Sage for a few weeks now – it definitely makes it easier to stay focused in some ways but I still struggle with narrowing down to three priorities each week.

    • Sage Grayson on July 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Rebecca! I’m happy to hear you’ve been using the Ultimate To-Do List. 🙂

      Even I have trouble narrowing it down to just 3 priorities, but I notice my stress levels get a little too high when I try to cram in any more goals. If I finish my priorities early in the week, then I tack on another goal for the remain few days. For me, baby steps are better than burnout.