Josh Brammer, of Spinweb, has provided us with many useful insights on our guest blog over the past few weeks. Today Josh gives fantastic tips on making better to-do lists!

You have stuff to get done. Stuff that requires phone calls, emails, trips to the bank, the list goes on and on. So how do you organize your to-do list in a way that is helpful and easy to manage? Start make making smarter lists.

The major goal of a to-do list is to organize your actions in a way that is easy answer the question “What should I do next?” But often lists are nothing more than quick jotts on paper that donʼt really capture or explain the task in a way that is meaningful.

At SpinWeb, we often talk about to-do lists using this philosophy: Make the smart part of your brain tell the lazy part what to do. In a practical sense, this means taking extra time when creating your to-do list. Try these tips for smarter, easier to accomplish to-do lists:

Think Action. Have you ever seen a to-do list that looks like a list of random words? Instead of single word notes, take an extra moment to add a verb to all of your to-dos. Instead of “Jim”, write down “Compliment Jim on his excellent jazz hand technique.”

Think Downhilll. Itʼs not that you are lazy, but when you are overwhelmed by stuff to do itʼs helpful to have a clear next action available that doesnʼt require mental energy to plan or stress about. Phrase your to-do in a way that makes tasks easy to digest andthink “I can do that!”

  • Good: Find cookie Recipe.
  • Better: Find cookie recipe online at

Think Baby-steps. If you have a large task to accomplish, break it into smaller chunks. “Buy Paint for Living Room” may be a daunting task, but consider these smaller tasks:

  • Take sofa fabric sample to paint store
  • Select paint and buy paint sample
  • Paint sample section of living room wall
  • Fall in love with the paint color (or go back to the store and try again)

Think Team. Delegation is a difficult skill to learn, but often your tasks cannot be accomplished by yourself. When breaking down your tasks into smaller chunks, often youʼll find that you need to ask someone else for something small to keep the task in motion. Make sure to keep a reminder on your list, so that you can followup

Remember, the to-do list should make your life easier — so take the time to make a smarter list. Next time we will focus more on teamwork with 5 Tips for Better Delegating.

Author: Josh BrammerA process thinker, Josh Brammer helps knowledge workers balance work and family life through workflow and habit management. Josh Brammer is VP of Operations at SpinWeb and believes: Character + useful technology – distractions = saving time without becoming a robot.

In his spare time, Josh enjoys his family, good films, making outlines & creating more spare time. Josh shares a personality with Walt Disney & Ben Franklin (ENTP), which makes life much more interesting. If not behind a Mac, you’ll catch him reading or enjoying double espresso macchiatos. Contact Josh at or 317-324-1100.