Get More Done with a 1 Thing To-Do List

Get More Done with a 1 Thing To-Do List

Get more done with the 1 Thing To-Do List free printableHow on earth can we do everything on our to-do lists? We can’t. But we can do the most important things!

I recently wrote about my enthusiasm for the book, The One Thing by Gary Keller, in a post on getting organized to blog or have a business while homeschooling. But this approach to productivity has the capacity to help anyone get more done.

A friend asked how I used the approach. I explained how I am using it to improve my marriage and work with my digital task list. She mentioned that she wished there was a good paper list to be used with this approach and I was inspired! Read on for what I shared with her and what I ended up using to manage my own tasks.

JUST WANT THE TO-DO LIST? Click here to download a blank PDF of the 1-Thing To-Do List or Click here to subscribe to productivity posts and get an editable form.

First, what’s The One Thing?

Gary Keller urges his readers to determine the one thing that would make the biggest impact in their lives (usually that will be the thing that makes the biggest impact in others’ lives, too). Once we know that, we can determine the one thing that would have the biggest impact on our lives in the next five years, next year, and so on. The great way he defines the one thing is:

the one thing you can do that will make everything else easier or unnecessary. 

If you don’t yet know what you want to do with your life, I urge you to spend time praying and thinking about it. The book itself may help your thinking. Once you know your ultimate goal, deciding the one most important thing to do becomes easier. As a busy homeschooling mom with many interests, I loved the concept of choosing the one thing in every area of my life. I can’t possibly choose only one important area of my life to focus on! If you get stuck choosing one thing, remember that choosing doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else–it just means that you have chosen what you think is the most valuable use of your time for now. Perfectionists, take note: choose what appears to be the one thing. That’s good enough!

For inspiration on using a one-thing approach, listen to Jeff Sanders’s podcast on the subject.

How I’m Using The One Thing to Build My Marriage

I realized from interviewing Dr. Don McCulloch, author of Perfect Circle, that I longed for my husband to ask me what he could do to make the marriage of my dreams a reality. The problem was, like most men, he was inclined to guess what I needed and would give me that instead. Inspired by The One Thing, I asked my husband what the one thing was that would make his day easier (that I could do) and he told me. He was very open to hearing the one thing he could do to make my day easier, too. In fact, he is asking me this question on his own now. Wow!

I recommend asking your spouse what s/he needs first and then telling your spouse what you need most and make it a daily habit. Morning works best for us. Before you know it, your spouse will be asking you first!

How I Use The One Thing to Get More Done with ToDoist

Because I already have my tasks sorted by life area (colored categories) in ToDoist, it’s easy for me to review these and choose my one thing each day. I have tasks dated (something I accomplish during my weekly review) for the week, making choosing one to make top priority quick and easy. Rather than work from the Today view, I keep my list open to Top Priority tasks until they’re complete. I take all of this one step further by scheduling time for each “one thing” in Timeful. I explain more about this in 6 Important Habits for Getting More Done.

How To Use The One Thing with a Paper To-Do List

I’m absolutely crazy about digital task solutions like ToDoist, but I’m also crazy about pretty paper lists–the more colorful, the better. When my friend mentioned a paper list, I had to create a weekly form that would work for 1-Thing Productivity. Each life area has a color and a space for one monthly and weekly thing that will make everything else in that life area easier. What do I mean by life areas? The best way to explain is with examples. My life areas are church/faith, marriage, kids, homeschooling, blog, business, relationships, organization, personal, and scrapbooking.

The beauty of this list is the linear connection between your monthly and weekly 1-things and your daily 1-things. Every day, you list a new 1-thing per life area and check it or cross it off as you complete it.

Click here to download a blank PDF of the 1-Thing To-Do List. You will hand write up to ten life areas in the colored boxes. An editable Word form is a subscriber freebie. (Subscribers, you’ll find yours in the subscriber freebies folder.) Click here to subscribe to productivity posts.

A few notes. Sometimes your 1 thing won’t correspond with your weekly and monthly 1 thing. That’s ok. The form exists to keep your longer-term things top of mind. You may also have days when you don’t need to do anything in a particular life area. That’s ok, too. The form serves as a reminder of all the important aspects of your life and where you’re devoting the most time. If I don’t complete an area’s “one thing,” I rewrite it for the next day IF it’s still the one most important thing I can do.

Finally, you may have other must-do’s for a particular life area. You can approach this in a few different ways. First, list the rest of your must-do-today’s on the back of the form under today’s date. You could work on them as you complete the various 1 things. Second, you could keep these other must-do’s on a separate list that you only tackle once all of your 1 things are done. Lastly, you could schedule your “one things” and everything else you want to accomplish today on your calendar or datebook or using an app like Timeful. I use the latter approach.

Whatever method you choose, the 1 Thing approach to getting more done is really powerful. What 1 thing could you do right now that would make the rest of your day easier? Let me know how this works for you.

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A Better Daily Weekly Monthly To Do List

A Better Daily Weekly Monthly To Do List

A Better Daily Weekly Monthly To Do List. Free printable from or Mac appOne of my most popular posts is Can a Daily Weekly Monthly To Do List Help You Get More Done? Many people are looking for a to-do list that keeps their monthly and weekly goals in sight. There was just one problem with the form I linked to in my post: I didn’t like it.

I needed more room for my goals. So I embarked on a search! And I believe I have found two great options–one paper and one digital.

Before I tell you about them, I want to explain that a daily, weekly, monthly to-do list has made a world of difference in my weekly reviews. David Allen and many other productivity experts recommend a time of reviewing the past week and planning for the upcoming one. It’s advice that just makes sense. The problem is I wasn’t doing it. It seemed so dreary and time-consuming to look over all my tasks. Goals, on the other hand, are what I get excited about. If I can review my tasks for the purpose of setting weekly goals, the review doesn’t feel like drudgery. Then if you give me a beautiful form on which to record said goals, I’m in business!

Beautiful daily weekly monthly to do lists from

A Better Paper Daily Weekly Monthly To Do List

I found a beautiful free form available in teal from Jana Laurene. But I paid a few dollars to get the forms in a number of different colors. I printed mine in gray so it wouldn’t look obnoxious on my refrigerator. I wanted it there as a constant reminder for me and also so my family could see what I was up to. The forms are two to a page, but I felt I didn’t have enough room to write that way, so I expanded mine to a full 8.5×11 in Word.

When completing the form, I found it helpful to note my appointments on various days, too. It’s much easier to plan a doable task load that way.

DayMap daily weekly monthly to do list for Mac

A Better Digital Daily Weekly Monthly To Do List

I found out about DayMap for iOS on Mark Forster’s forum. I watched the video explaining the rationale behind DayMap and loved the plain-spoken developer’s story. Then I downloaded the free version of DayMap to my Mac and HELLO! It was exactly what I’d been looking for and I didn’t even know it. (That’s kind of how it was when I met my husband, too, but I digress…).

Here’s how I use DayMap as my daily, weekly, monthly to-do list.

  1. I listed all the main areas of my life across the top using the same titles and colors as I use in ToDoist.
  2. I chose any tasks listed under each life area in ToDoist that I wanted to accomplish this month and added them to DayMap.
  3. I upgraded to DayMap from DayMap Lite so that I could pull in Apple Calendar (which is synced to my Google calendar). That allowed me to see my commitments so I could plan my tasks accordingly.
  4. I pulled monthly task goals from the upper life area to the day I wanted to achieve them.

There isn’t a weekly goal section per se, but seeing the entire week at a time gives me the same effect. It’s big and it’s beautiful. What’s more is there is a syncing iPhone app, so I can check tasks off as I go. And unlike paper, it’s easy to move tasks to a different day. I do this if I have a goal that requires daily work. I don’t check it off, but move it to do the next day as well.

Planned tasks are italicized in the area list above. Completed tasks are crossed out. It’s very possible to use DayMap as your only to-do list. But because I have so many email-associated tasks and one-offs, I will continue to use ToDoist as my catch-all list and DayMap for planning and goals.

My apologies to those without Macs, because I love this app! However, I have found that my readers prefer paper. So check out Jana’s to-do list and give it a whirl!

What do you think? Have you come across a daily, weekly, monthly to-do list that you like better than these?


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