How to Create the Simplest, Best To-Do List Ever


I love to-do lists and have tried many different kinds, but this is the very best one. Thanks, Selene Santiago, for teaching it to me! Here’s how it works:

Separate your to-do list into these categories:


Use an ACTION word at the start of each item so you know what action you need to take. Examples:

  • EMAIL Selene
  • WRITE research paper outline
  • CALL Ms. Phillips to request letter of recommendation

That’s it. Simple, huh? Here are a few simple tips:

    1. Clear the “today” list each day. There’s no better feeling than getting every thing on your “Today” list done. To this end...
    2. Be realistic about what you can get done in a day. There’s nothing worse than getting a LOT of stuff done in a day and still having ten things on the list. If you think you can’t get everything in your “Today” list done, move it down into the “This Week” list.
    3. If you’re worried about spending too much time on something, set a time goal. Example: WRITE research paper outline (1 hr.) Usually I give myself a little less time than I think it’ll actually take me, so I work faster. It becomes a game.

There you have it. The easiest and most effective to-do list ever. Now let's go get some stuff done!


Written by Ethan Sawyer – In addition to being the College Essay Guy, Ethan is a writer, teacher, speaker, and voice actor. He has worked at Elite since 2003 is also the coordinator for the Elite Community Scholars Program, a program very close to his heart. You can email him at The views expressed in this blog post are Ethan's and don't necessarily reflect those of Elite Educational Institute.