To do Lists – The Key to Achieving Big Goals

One key to success is to-do lists. By this I don’t mean the laundry list of things that need to be done, often longer than there are hours in the day. What I mean is starting the list with the biggest priorities for the week. These priorities should be rooted in your longer term objectives – whether that’s for the year, the quarter or the month. There should only be 2-3 key priorities for week. Once these have been identified then it’s helpful to detail some of the big steps needed in the week to move those 2-3 key priorities ahead. Using Stephen Covey’s language – these are often the important but not urgent items (versus the urgent but unimportant things we can waste our time doing).

Once the key priorities have been identified then they need to be planned into your schedule for the week. It’s no good having a list of priorities without putting the time in your schedule or diary to do the work to complete them. Only once this time has been planned should you then look at the next layer of priorities – the urgent and important things.

To-Do lists are not just about choosing what to do; they are also about saying no to many things. First say no to the unimportant – whether it’s urgent or not urgent. Be conscious for a week about what takes your attention, effort and time. What can be cut? (Unless you are the rare worker who has too much time and not enough to do). Most people I coach with have too much work for a reasonable working schedule so can’t do everything, they have to prioritize.



Not Urgent


  • Crisis management
  • Projects with strict deadlines
  • Pressing work issues
  • Planning and organising
  • Relationship building
  • Finding new opportunities

Not Important

  • Some calls, emails, reports, meetings
  • Group activities
  • Interruptions
  • Some emails and calls
  • Trivia
  • Enjoyable activates outside of daily work


What priorities are the bases for your to-do list? What to-do would serve you in your personal or professional life right now?

Anne Taylor is an experienced business coach, helping an extensive range of professional people in the London area. My services include executive coaching, personal coaching and group coaching. For more information call 02031 516 830.