To Do List
Productivity a problem? Use our To Do List spreadsheet template collection for a series of to-do lists and dashboards to manage projects across weekly, monthly, or subtask views. Manage personal to-dos by type, status, and due date. Track progress across individual tasks with a status to-do list. Since the most important element of any to-do list is to prioritize tasks, the Priority list divides to-dos by their importance. To track daily task accomplishments, use the daily log that accumulates progress toward daily, weekly, or monthly frequency goals.
Below, we share some productivity best practices from the business world's top executors, how those best practices can be added to your personal productivity toolkits, and how you can download and customize the To Do List spreadsheet model we created to help.
The goal here is to help explain how to be more productive at work or working remotely. Companies and entrepreneurs alike have struggled with how to assess productivity in a hybrid workplace. But with more people than ever working remotely OR working for themselves, it can be hard to manage schedules and get everything done. If you want to go straight to the spreadsheet explainer, do so now.
The state of productivity 2022
The state of productivity in the workplace is all over the place in 2022. According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report for Q2, business labor productivity as a whole is down 4.6% from last quarter. According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report for Q2 of 2022, business labor productivity as a whole is down 4.6% from last quarter. In a New York Federal Reserve survey of executives from August of 2022, 30% of companies that expanded remote work reported lower productivity, while 50% reported no change.
Another paper from July found that sectors with remote work reported a 3.3% annual increase in output per hour. Those that didn't allow remote work saw declines or no change. And a May 2022 study of workers found that those who worked at least some of the time remotely reported being 9% more productive than those working from the office. So which is it?
It could be that flexibility provides employees the option to optimize for what works best for them. This is one reason why the hybrid work environment has become more popular. Apple recently asked employees to come back into the office three days a week as "a pilot" of its hybrid office policy to foster more in-person collaboration it sees as necessary to develop high-quality hardware products. But as more workers report being self-employed than before the pandemic, and those pursuing gig work reached all-time highs even in a tight labor market, the question really is: So how do you manage your productivity, whether working remotely or working for yourself?
Productivity best practices from top performers
Here's some advice from two very productive dudes: Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Elon Musk, who both ran multiple companies for years. Dorsey maps out his week around routines, with each day dedicated to a different task. Even if you have multiple tasks that need to be accomplished, this maximizes the flow state so that tasks are categorized and grouped into sub-tasks and not interrupted. Elon Musk famously avoids meetings and suggests walking out if they aren't valuable. That doesn't mean he doesn't believe in communication: he says people work best when they know what the goal is and why.
This is called prioritization, another key hack to be more productive. Steve Jobs recommends saying no to the "hundred other good ideas" in favor of the best idea. Warren Buffett adds, "really successful people say no to almost everything." Buffett actually has a trick called the "Two Lists" framework. He recommends you write down your twenty-five top goals. Then, circle your five highest priorities, and avoid the other twenty at all costs.
Now that you have your "to-do" list, it's time to start your work. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom says to start whatever it is you need to do it for at least five minutes. If you can work on it for five minutes, you'll probably finish it. Beyond that, science shows that regular exercise, getting enough sleep, listening to music without lyrics while you work, and taking enough breaks will help you be more efficient overall. If you want more tips on how to create a culture of execution in your workplace, check out our summary of the book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done.
Manage your to-dos
So how can you take all that advice and apply it to your work? You need a to-do list that works for you. Our To Do List Spreadsheet provides a series of to-do lists with dashboards that you can download and customize for any business or personal need. Whether you want to manage projects across weekly, monthly, or subtask views or manage your personal to-dos by type, status, and due date, this template has easy-to-use lists for you. You can even track the progress of each individual task with a status to-do list. And since the most essential element of any to-do list is to prioritize, our to-do list model provides specific visualizations divided up by priority. Plus, if all you need is a daily task tracker, our daily log list accumulates your progress toward daily, weekly, or monthly frequency goals.
Manage your time
The most crucial task for any to-do list is to help you manage your time as efficiently as possible. This weekly to-do list allows you to budget a whole week's worth of tasks across multiple teams and responsible roles and track the estimated hours assigned for each task against the actual hours it takes to complete. For a full month's view, the same visualization is broken up across the weeks of a month. More rows can be added to accommodate a whole week's worth of tasks. The dashboard at the top tracks estimated cost and hours vs. actual cost and hours across each task.
It also allows the project manager to track tasks, departments, and roles by their status. The PM can then track how many tasks are completed, in progress, or not started by a specified date range to determine if the project is on schedule. If more tasks are behind schedule than not, this dashboard will inform the project which tasks and team members need the most support to get back on schedule.
Manage your projects
Now let's say a project manager wants to manage multiple projects with this to-do list. The project to-do list can track a series of sub-projects as part of the overarching project here. This dashboard works the same as the weekly and monthly to-do lists, with one exception: The project manager can break each sub-project out across a series of metrics to evaluate how each project compares to one another. Since it's helpful to break complicated tasks into simpler sub-tasks, this to-do list is useful for both managing large teams and managing long-term assignments.
Now, what if you want to manage your personal to-dos or one-off tasks? A simple to-do list allows you to add your to-dos, their due date, and their priority. When a task is completed, simply check it off. If new tasks are added that are more important, simply drag them to the top of the list. The dashboard at the top visualizes completed and non-completed tasks by their priority level, as well as by their due date. As tasks are checked off, the dashboard updates accordingly, giving you relief that your tasks are on target and not piling up.
For more complicated tasks that take time to complete, use the status to-do list and update the completion bar as progress is made. The total percent complete chart tallies the total percentage towards completion of all the tasks, so as progress is made across multiple to-dos, it's visually represented even if tasks aren't finished outright.
Last, a daily to-do list logs each occurrence of an activity you want to accomplish each day, each week, or each month based on the frequency column. As more activities are logged, the accumulated progress grows and changes color so you can see your progress towards your goals increase over time.
Because prioritization is the most critical factor between you and your goals, each to-do list and dashboard in this spreadsheet accounts for priority in some way. However, if you truly want to prioritize, the priority to-do list breaks tasks out in a visually simple way, so your high-priority tasks come first, followed by your medium and low-priority tasks. This helps accomplish Warren Buffett's 5/25 method… write your top five in the high-priority section, and delete the rest of the to-do list.
When it comes to today's difficult-to-navigate work-life balance, you need to do lists that work for you instead of working against you. With them, you can get more done and better manage your teams, stress levels, and overall mental health. You can download and customize this To Do List Spreadsheet to save time and hours of work doing just that. Now, for the top strategies to navigate and balance all of the competing priorities of life, check out our book summary of the book How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christenson.