my avatar, a simple three line smiley face my todo list

I believe the concept of a todo list is well known to everybody on earth—one writes down what one needs to do. As simple as that.

But still, most people may find themselves frustrated with their todo list. It never seems to stop, there is always the voice in the back of your head that tells you that you could have done more, that you have to do more if you ever want to finish that god damned list.

I have a kind of different relationship to my todo list, and that is what I want to focus on in this post.


I use an A5 college block. Each page corresponds to a project. Each project has its own todos, I write them on that page. If the page is full, begin another one. If a todo is done, mark it completed, if it is obsolete, strike it through. The todo list is just a place to store todos. Do not worry about unfinished todos. Feel free to rewrite pages if they get messy.

To choose a todo to work on: Choose a project first, then the todo. Stick to the project for a few todos. Repeat.

the why

I cannot keep each and every thing I need to do in my head. I also don't want to do that, because it would probably stress me out a lot.

What I want instead is a quick and easy way to see what I can work on and what I've already done.

the how

My todo list is the place where I store my todos. I am using an A5-format paper college block, which is something a little bit different, as most people probably use something digital. If I were to use some app for todos, I would just have the urge to program my own todo app (ask me how I know). I currently do not have the time to program such an app, so I use pen and paper instead, which is delightfully flexible and I enjoy handwriting a lot.

Now, how do I store the todos? You see, I have different projects, some personal (like this website), some related to uni. Each project gets its own page in my college block. I write the name of the project on the top of the page. Obviously, I only put the project specific todos on those pages.

Personally, I have little circles left of the todo, the name directly to the right of the circle, and the creation date of the todo to the right of the page. If I have finished a todo, I will put a x in the circle, maybe write the date of completion somewhere as well.

If I have no room left on a page, I begin another one. Depending on the amount of open todos left, I may rewrite them on the new page, or just leave them on the old page.

how to choose

When you're done with writing all your projects and their todos down, you might have a huuuge list of things to choose from. Where do you even start? I've been paralyzed by choice a few times already, but with this todo list method I kinda prepared to combat this.

Remember that I dedicated a whole page to each project? There are always fewer projects to choose from than todos! So what I do is first choosing a project to work on, and then choose todos of those projects. After I have chosen a project, I stick to it for some time. It's a rule I imposed on myself, because if I were to choose a new project after each finished todo, I wouldn't have needed to choose a project in the first place!

what to do with unfinished todos

So, it is the end of the day, and you naturally have a lot of todos left on that list. What do we do with those? Well, leave them on there! Next time you tackle todos of that project, you can work on them one by one.

If a todo just isn't relevant anymore, just strike it through. If one project page becomes a mess, re-write the still open todos on another page.

Once you have finished a page, great! Begin another one. Consider putting a bookmark or something to where your open todos begin. If your pages become too fragmented, rewrite them so they are all together again.

Closing words

That's how I currently do it. I tried many different things in the past, bullet journaling, apps, neverending lists. I think that essentially having a todo list for each project is an interesting twist, that's why I am exploring it currently. It works great right now, but might not work as well in the future. I'll try and keep you updated here.

If you've stumbled upon this note of mine and made it this far down in the post, thank you for reading! I would love to hear about your way of managing todos! Just click the "reply by email" link below, or contact me using any of the methods listed on my links page.