Make a Doable To Do List: The Rule of 3

To-do lists can be as frustrating as they are useful. Some days to do lists seem like an awesome tool. Then on other days they seem like instruments of torture, mocking my efforts and goals.

But, it is the process of planning that is helpful even when the plans don’t work out.

So let’s stick with the process and see if we can tweak it to be more beneficial.

Never completing your miles of lists? Learn the formula for writing a to-do list that will work for you - and not overwhelm!

Is a doable to do list possible?

I know I tend to proliferate on my to-do list. There are so many things I want to do in a day, so many things I feel I should do in a day. It is hard, but essential, to keep the to-do list pared down.

I keep my daily list on an index card in order to keep it short and simple.

But still I feel the impulse, the pull, to keep adding more and more to the daily list. How can I limit it to 3-5 things when there is so much to do?


The rule of three applied to your to do list.

The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things.

Things are better in threes. Three is manageable. You can wrap your head around three.

The index card format is already set up in 3 sections, and I find it much too tempting to add three things to each section instead of limiting myself to the one most important.

So, what I’ve started doing is to allow myself to list 3 tasks in each of the three categories, then marking the one essential, most important task in each section with a red star.

Those three starred items, then, are my MITs for the day: Most Important Things.

Until those things are done, I need to not browse Pinterest, do low-priority sorting or cleaning, or other recreational activities.

More to-do list tips

Also check out my other posts on this topic:





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One Comment

  1. I’m still loving the way you divvy up your to-do list. I have mine on a small white board on my fridge rather than an index card. Using a dry erase pen also helps me to not try to write as small as possible so as to try and fit as much as I can in each section. Although I have gotten better and better at writing small with said pen… sigh But yes, three things is a great guideline. I think it would take some serious self-wrangling to get it to happen though!! I tend to have 4-5 things in each section, although some days there are far more – which I know is bad, but I do it anyway. Ugh!

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