8 Tips For Making a Daily To-Do List That Will Change Your Life

We’ve all been there: you have a list of things to do in your head, but really all you want to do is play video games/nap/see your friends/curl up on the couch with a book. “I’ll do it later,” you think, and suddenly it’s 10pm, the day is over, and you’re left with nothing to show for your day except guilt and regret.

Hashtag relatable, amirite?

I was like that, too. On my days off, I would promise myself I’d get to writing or planning out my next novel, only to spend the next seven hours playing Dragon Age or Horizon Zero Dawn. Although I love games and it’s completely fine to spend your day gaming every now and then, it started to become a bad habit, and the deeper you are into a bad habit, the harder it is to get yourself out.

When we moved to Musashi-Kosugi, it felt like a fresh start in a fresh new apartment. However, I don’t believe that moving somewhere new really got me organised. What did sort me out was something ancient and extremely simple, yet more effective than I ever could have imagined: the to-do list.

Do it. Do it right now. Open Google Docs in another tab. Label it with tomorrow’s date (or today’s date if it’s still early while you’re reading this) and write a list of things you need to do. Done right, it can help you be more productive than you could ever have guessed.

Here are some tips on your to-do list and how to stick to it.

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1. Make it Realistic

There’s no use sticking eight hours’ worth of solid work onto your list. Start off slow – maybe add one or two things such as “pick up the children from school” and “write 500 words of new book.” Even things you were planning to do anyway should be on there.

Adding too much to your list can just make you feel more overwhelmed than ever, and you’ll end up getting none of it done at all.

2. Add Easy Things for Momentum

I always start my to-do list with two things: “make coffee” and “kiss my husband.” Both of these things are easy and part of my morning routine. When you already have two items on your list ticked, it’s much easier to get started on the next. At the time of writing this article, I’ve already finished the first two things, getting me mentally ready for the third (which was writing this).

3. Prioritise

You might have an enormous amount of things to do: housework, personal projects, freelance projects, things you simply can’t put off, and things you could probably put off for another week. Think about what needs to be done now.

For instance, do you have a paper that has a deadline? Get that done before working on your personal project.

4. Start Early

On days where I’m not working at my day job, I try to start the things on the list at or before 9:00am. That way, by lunchtime I have already finished three or four things on the list.

Starting early, when possible, also gives you the evening to do whatever you want, completely guilt-free. You’ll feel much better when you’ve had a productive day. You may even feel motivated to do more work, but be sure to take a rest, too. Playing Dying Light in the evening is way more enjoyable after a day of getting stuff done.

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5. Be Specific

Adding things like “work on new book” or “practise guitar” is all well and good, but be sure to have concrete goals. Add exactly what you want to get done that day. For example, when working on a proofreading project, I’ll aim to edit 25 pages as one task, which will usually take an hour or so. That way, when the 25 pages are up, the task is ‘finished’ and I can rest for a bit.

Some people may rather put time instead of tasks (for example, “proofread for one hour”), but I personally think tasks are more important. You can easily get distracted by your phone, making tea, or whatever else, and the hour can waste away rather than being a time slot of solid work.

6. Allow Time to Rest… But Not Too Much

Allow small breaks, but stick to them. If a break is fifteen minutes, make it fifteen minutes. You may find your motivation is high after completing tasks on your list, though, so feel free to power through if you want to! I’ve found that ticking tasks from my lists just makes me feel more motivated to start with the next one.

Never feel guilty for taking a break, though. Sometimes your mind needs a short break to refuel. Just be sure that your break doesn’t accidentally turn into three hours of nothing.

7. Add Variety

Dedicating a day to your main hobby, task, or skill development is all well and good, but you’re going to burn out quickly if you just have “work on thesis for eight hours” on your list. Here is a quick example list for a student working on her dissertation.

  • Have breakfast
  • Take a shower and get dressed
  • Write 300 words of dissertation
  • Vacuum room
  • Plan second half of essay
  • Call Mum
  • Email lecturer about deadline

etc, etc, etc.

Breaking up your list into various kinds of bitesize tasks makes it a lot less overwhelming. You also get a lot more done in your day. It’s surprising how much can be achieved in less than twelve hours.

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8. Make Your List the Night Before

Don’t wait until morning to make the list for that day! Before you go to bed, make a clear, easy-to-follow list for the following day, complete with easy tasks like eating meals and showering. That way, when you wake up, you can get started with task 1 with a clear mind.

You may be surprised at how much you can get done with a simple to-do list. In the time I’ve been making a daily list, I’ve completed writing assignments that I’d kept putting off, planned out previously difficult details of a book I’m writing, and proofread a huge chunk of a novel for a client. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a list-less life, and you shouldn’t, either.

So what are you waiting for? I want to see your to-do list for tomorrow! Get cracking!

日本語日記しようかな

14歳から日本に興味がありました。

少し変な話ですが、2007年おばあちゃんと弟と一緒にフロリダ州のディズニーランドへ行って、いろいろな国のテーマがありました。そして日本のテーマ場所へ行って、とてもかっこいいな場所だと思いました。それから日本に興味がありました!

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日本で働きたいを決まりました。たくさんしらべて、日本語を勉強になりました。大学でも勉強したかったから頑張った。おかあさんはCDとかテキストとかを買ってあげました。それから、18歳の時日本へ遊びに行きました。東京が大好きになった!

留学して、日本にずっと住みたい事を決まりました。長野県にも1年半ぐらいに住んで、特別な人に会ってまた東京に引越ししました。

今、東京に住んでいます。日本の男(特別な人)にも婚約中と、とても幸せです!

ありがとうございました。

Today’s My Birthday

Hi, everyone. Today’s my birthday. I got a cake to prove it!

A lot of my friends are older than me, and by writing this article I can almost feel the “Oh, shut up, you’re still young!” But hear me out.

25 is when you stop being a young adult and become an adult adult. There is no excuse for not being able to do things anymore. You’re expected to know how to change a baby’s diaper. Drive a car. Fill out your tax returns.

25 is where your life begins.

Not that it’ll feel any different, probably; things will just hurt more and hangovers will last longer. I’m fairly happy with life so far, so it’ll be good to see where the second half of my twenties take me.

Wholesome Memes For My Friend Rowan

Day 31

Hey everyone! My friend Rowan has been feeling really down lately.

I first met Rowan when we both worked for an English school in Tokyo. I was in training, and was about to watch another teacher so I could learn how things were done. Before entering the classroom, I heard the Irish voice of another teacher kindly saying “You’re doing really, really well and I’m so proud of you! Keep trying!”

Wow, I thought. What a sweetheart.

I met the smiling teacher just a few minutes later. He was dark-haired and all smiles, and greeted me with such enthusiasm that soon I was grinning back. He told me he could speak five languages and asked me to have a great day. He’s back in Ireland now, and I miss him a lot.

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Rowan is one of those people who is just nice. To everybody. All the time. He always shows great interest in what other people are doing. I’m proud to call him a friend. I’ve collected some of these wholesome memes to put a smile on everyone’s faces.

Keep going, buddy. Your friends and family love you and you are a precious gem on this earth.

Keep scrolling for wholesome!

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Get well soon ❤

10 Steps to Take to Pick Yourself Up When You’re Feeling Depressed

Day 30

Whether it’s long-term clinical depression or a perpetual bad mood triggered by a traumatic or upsetting event, depression affects thousands of people every year and should be taken seriously. Failure to acknowledge, address, and tend to this issue can lead to physical problems and thoughts of suicide.

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I’m not going to tell you to snap out of it, tell you that everyone feels this way sometimes, or worst of all, urge you to think of your loved ones. I don’t know how you feel; only YOU know that. However, I’d like to suggest some steps you can take to hopefully make yourself feel better. Let’s try it.

1. WANT to Get Better

This may sound bizarre to people who have never suffered from depression, but it can be something of an odd comfort to feel so down all the time. It’s twisted, but it feels like it would be easier to stay in perpetual darkness than to turn on the light. This is probably the hardest step of all.

You need to be 100% determined to make yourself feel better, not by force but with healthy steps. Ready to kick depression’s ass? Great! Move on to step two.

2. Address the Problem

Some people suffer from depression throughout their lives, and it isn’t triggered by any unusual event or person. If this is you, move on to step three.

However, for some people, depression comes along in the wake of something bad that happened to them. No matter how trivial you tell yourself the problem is, it can easily make one feel rough. If that sounds like you, you need to think carefully about what the problem might be and how to address it. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away.

Book the therapist appointment. Talk to the person. Find a solution to your problem. It’s hard, but you’ll come out of it so much better.

3. Get a Shower and Get Dressed

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In depressive episodes, some people have trouble going outside or even getting out of bed. If you’re reading this from your couch or bed and you haven’t done anything else today, get a shower.

Then get dressed. You don’t have to wear anything fancy or wear makeup unless you want to – just wear something comfortable and clean. Wash your hair and brush your teeth. This is step three; don’t skip it.

4. Clean Your Room

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With zero motivation and that dull ache in your chest, cleaning anything at all might seem impossible right now. However, if cleaning your room or your house is too difficult, take these small steps.

  • Make your bed.
  • Put your dirty clothes in the washing machine.

Already, you’ve made huge steps. If this is all you can manage now, that’s completely fine.

  • Turn on the washing machine.
  • Pick up stuff from the floor.
  • Take out the trash.

Fantastic work! Already, the house/apartment is starting to look and smell better. Bonus points if you can:

  • Vacuum your room.
  • Hang up/dry the clothes after they’ve been washed.
  • Wash the dishes.
  • Organise your books, games, and DVDs.
  • Clean your desk.
  • Change your bed sheets.

If you can manage to clean your living space, it can equal a clearer mind and a better mood. Now you are clean and so is your home. This isn’t a depression cure, but it certainly helps.

5. Cry

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Crying can let out a lot of anguish and emotional pain… for some people. If crying isn’t something you want to make yourself do, feel free to skip this step.

However, if you’re the kind of person who feels better after a good cry, put on a movie that you know will have you reaching for the tissues (Titanic, The Notebook, The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, Ghost, and Schindler’s List are all good choices) or listen to some “emo” music and let the tears flow. You may feel surprisingly light afterward.

6. Make a Plan for Self-Improvement

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Depression strangles you and stops you from finding the fun in anything. Your motivation takes a kick and you find yourself thinking that you’ll never find joy ever again.

If you can, try to remember when you were a kid and what hopes you had for the future. For example, you may have always wanted to be an actor or travel the world. Make a plan, including all the steps you have to take the achieve your goal, even if it’s a really big one. This can be anything: write a song, learn to play an instrument, start learning a new language, travel to another continent, etc.

You don’t necessarily have to carry out the plan, but making one can make you feel optimistic, excited, and give you a glimmer of hope for the future. Don’t worry about the plan being too abstract or difficult; it’s making the plan that can make you feel good.

7. Do Something Nice for Someone Else

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A lot of negative thoughts that come with depression include self-hatred, a low opinion of oneself, and the belief that the world would be better without you in it. Words won’t change this, but actions can.

Think of someone who needs help. Do something for them, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to them. Listen to their problem. Tell them they look nice (as long as you mean it). Watch their YouTube video and leave a comment. Read their book and leave a review. Take care of their baby for the afternoon while they take a break.

Doing something nice for another person can really boost your self-worth, and even if it does nothing at all to make you feel better, at least you’ve made someone else’s day.

8. Call or Text a Family Member

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Got an aunt, cousin, or grandma who you haven’t spoken to in a while? Pick up your phone and contact them. If you’re not up to a phone call, a WhatsApp message will suffice. They will be glad to hear from you and you’ll be able to get your mind off things while you catch up.

You could also do this with an old friend who you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Check your Facebook, Instagram, or any other account and see if there are people you haven’t hit up in a while. They will appreciate it and you’ll be strengthening relationships, too.

9. Talk to Someone

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If you’ve done all these things and you still feel rotten, try talking to someone close to you about how you’ve been feeling. Be sure to choose someone who you know has empathy and who will give you their full attention. Offloading can help a lot, and sometimes by saying your problems aloud, you can even figure out your own solution.

10. Make Use of Online and Anonymous Help

Still feel terrible? First of all, I’m really sorry nothing on this list helped. It’s tough when you’re feeling really down and nothing seems to work. Here are a few resources you can make use of if you need someone to talk to anonymously.

  • 7 Cups of Tea, an anonymous online chat site with volunteer helpers and paid therapists
  • A suicide hotline (all countries) for if you’re in immediate danger
  • Samaritans. It’s British but you can email them from anywhere.
  • ElderWisdom to talk and get advice from seniors

Hopefully you can start to feel better as quickly as possible, because there are a lot of good things in this dark world. If you’re feeling down, please leave a comment or tweet to me and I’ll try and help you further. I’m not a professional, but I’m a human who is always willing to lend an ear! Good luck. 🙂