Organise me: Start with a list...

By Andrea McArthur 

Considering that it is the start of a fresh year I thought it appropriate for my first blog post to be on planning for the New Year ahead. If we take it back to basics looking at what you want to achieve by setting yourself some simple tasks. Starting with creating and using a functional To Do List.

Task management

Set yourself a goal to streamline your To Do List (or start a To Do List if you don't use them). Create one go-to place for all of your new tasks, that way you can track your tasks and not leave anything out. Some suggestions that I would recommend trying are:

  • The traditional hard copy To Do List (I love paper and swear by lists) but this method can become cumbersome.
  • A simple low-fi method frequently used is a raw text edit file. This way you can cut and paste, make edits and save out To Do Lists for future ongoing use. Just make sure you are using headings for ease of reading.
  • Email method, you can utilize this by using your inbox to show all of your current tasks. Email yourself whenever you get a new project and organize your emails with labels and folders. A very straight forward method.
  • Utilizing software, I have recently been looking into tech-ing up my To Do List. There are many great paid and free programs that I have found. When looking at these programs, look for one which has an easy to use interface and one which can sync between your devices.

Whichever method you utilize the most important part is use your To Do List regularly and then prioritize your tasks.


One gem which has always stayed with me comes from a Marketing Manager who was very efficient and managed a large work load with apparent ease. Her method was very simple - complete all simple or quick tasks immediately. If something is only going to take a few minutes to complete just get it done then and there.

Prioritise longer tasks with an actionable label. Use a subject description and also a clear task that is to be completed. For instance 'New Identity Design / Meet with client to discuss concepts'.

Don't be afraid to separate tasks into groups, you could start with some basic ones such as Work, Personal, Backburner (commonly called the Get to Someday pile).

From here, much like the organized Account Managers at Design Studios you should also create a daily Work In Progress - To Do List to keep you on track for the day. Keep this short and succinct in order not to overwhelm yourself. You could utilize your Calendar to set reminders in order to help create your daily WIP as well.

Best of luck starting your own To Do List! I've started mine...

Andrea McArthur has a passion for all things visual. Type is her true love and goes weak over great design. After being a graphic designer for many years she has switched hats to become an educator of graphic design and enjoys watching others fall in love with design too. From January this year Andrea has switched hats again starting her solo freelance design business in Brisbane.