The Humble Daily To-do List

The daily to-do list has been a staple of our lives for years, and it’s easy to see why. Trying to remember all our tasks for a day, becomes easily confusing and if you’re like me, you end up forgetting the majority of them by the end of the day. Therefore, it is essential to use a daily to-do list.

Even in a modern world with our level of technology; technology that has taken us to places where no humans have been before, the humble daily todo list still lives on.

Do you use a daily to-do list? If so, why? And, what form does yours take; paper, digital, or something else? Let me know down below or over on Twitter.

My System

My daily to-do list follows a simple system that allows me to focus more on my work and less on the admin of my list. On my list, I use three different symbols: ‘^’, ‘*’, and ‘-’. Below I have explained each one of these and how I use it on my daily to-do list.

  • ‘-’ – This symbol indicates a new task for that day.
  • ‘*’ – The star indicates a task that is a matter of urgency and needs to be complete before everything else on the list. Occasionally, I have multiple starred tasks on the same day, in this case, I judge which task I should complete before the others.
  • ‘^’ – The up arrow indicates a task that has been rescheduled to the following day. I also have a second variation of this symbol (^x), the superscript number is the number of days in which I have rearranged the task. A superscript number is also a form of priority, the higher the number, the sooner I need to complete that task.
  • The final part of my daily to-do list is how I mark completed tasks, this doesn’t matter too much but personally, I opt for crossing through words, but then you could also highlight words.

I only have one rule when I’m working on my daily to-do list. I have to start the following day’s list before I go to bed the night prior. Every night for 5/10 minutes I spend time copying the tasks I didn’t complete from that day to tomorrow’s list. During this process the symbols are helpful, the ‘^’ with the highest number goes at the top of the list, and I work down until I’m adding new tasks using ‘-’.


If we lived in a perfect world, daily to-do lists wouldn’t be needed. But, unfortunately, we don’t live in such a world. So, while humans are an amazing species were also far from perfection, we forget things all the time. Hence, why a daily to-do list makes sense, by putting all of our tasks and ideas down on paper, we’re freeing up our focus for the job at hand.

I’ve found my daily to-do list makes me more competitive with myself to accomplish more every day; I hate being beaten and leaving outstanding jobs on my list is no exception to that. Conveniently, this system lends itself to accomplishing more by giving you all the tools to prioritise jobs simply without over-complicating them.

Simply, do more work and less list admin.


It’s obvious why we need daily to-do lists but what format should it take? Personally, I’ve used both digital and paper-based ones and so far, the paper has been better. Although, if a good enough list application came out; I’m sure I’d use it. However, so far I’ve always come back to paper. What system and format will you use for your daily to-do list? Let me know down in the comments or over on Twitter.

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