To-do lists are great. Writing down our plans for the day is useful, but is it enough?
Have you ever made a to-do list and then only accomplished the easy stuff, leaving the two or three big, important tasks untouched.
Here's one tip for a good to-do list:
Make your list the night before. Make sure you put some kind of limit on each item. If it's small, like paying your electric bill, you can complete the whole thing. If it's editing your novel, you'll need to put a limit on it such as, spend 30 minutes editing or edit one chapter. Make it small enough that you can do it in one sitting. If you need to, sprinkle several of these smaller tasks throughout the day.
Then number your list in the order you plan to do it. Do this the night before. We tend to be more optimistic about how we'll feel the next day and will put the more important tasks up front. If you wait until the next day, they easily get pushed further down on the list. Make sure to mix some easier tasks in with the bigger, more difficult tasks to give yourself a break.
The next day, you don't have to come up with the willpower to convince yourself to work on the important stuff. Just start working on your list in order.