How to Make an Effective To Do List to Reach Big Goals and Tackle Projects

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If you’ve ever sat and daydreamed about achieving a giant life-changing goal, but weren’t exactly sure how to achieve it, this post is for you.

Whatever your big dream or project is, I believe the way to make it happen lies in the humble to-do list.

The right kind of to do list can lift your daydreamed goal out of the wasted hours of day-to-day life and put it as a priority that happens rain or shine- bringing you ever closer and closer to achieving your dream.


Look At the Big Picture

Think of all the things you want out of life, the achievements, relationships, and memories you would love to look back on when you are old. Is there one that stands out to you? Something that you have always wanted but just never got underway? Don’t be afraid to dream big.

For the purpose of this post, I will use the goal example of wanting to self-publish a novel, but the steps will be the same for any goal that you have.


Get Detailed

With your large goal in mind, write a list of all the things you will need to do to accomplish it.

For a budding novelist with a goal of self-publishing a novel, this list might look something like this: outline your novel, flesh out your characters, spend lots of time writing, get better at editing, learn how to find beta-readers, decide which platforms to use to publish, learn to format the book, learn how to promote and sell the book, etc. The more detailed this list is, the better.

Don’t let it overwhelm you- you don’t have to get it all done at the same time. Big dreams are achievable when you learn to let it be a process and not something to just cross off the bucket list.



Divide and Conquer

A large project can feel overwhelming really quickly, but when you divide it down into steps, you will know what to focus your time and energy on. And you will be more likely to achieve your goal because you won’t throw your hands up after getting started because it feels like too much.

Begin by thinking of your year in quarters, 4 quarters in a year and 3 months in a quarter.

During each quarter of the year, you will focus on one large goal that will get you closer to your main goal.

For the example of writing a novel, quarter one could be brainstorming characters and creating a loose outline, quarter two could be writing a quick rough draft, quarter three could be reworking the plot line to fill in gaps in the storyline and plump up the story’s details, quarter four could be editing it the best you can and finding beta-readers. And so on.

It’s easier to focus your mind on one smaller goal than trying to juggle all the goals at once.

Next, divide each quarter’s goals into 3 monthly goals, and from there divide each monthly goal into 4 weekly goals. Then each weekly goal into daily bite size actions.

For example:

  • Quarter One- create characters and write a loose outline
  • Month one- Create a beginning, middle, and end to the story line
  • Week one- Brainstorm ideas on paper and choose possible story angles
  • Day one- Get a notebook, do a story idea brain dump, and make some brainstorming webs



Do it daily

Planning like this helps you to create big picture to-do lists and daily to-do lists that keep you on track. Every day, you will be taking small steps toward achieving your giant dream goal. This way you will always know what is most important to do today so you can accomplish your large goals in the long run.

To make it happen, make an appointment with yourself each day when you will work on your daily slice of the goal, and keep that appointment. For me, I always write and work on my blogging goals during my kid’s morning nap/quiet time. Every day, rain or shine, I am there. When I get my daily goal done, I know I am one step closer to achieving my big dream of earning a living with my writing, and that feels amazing and helps motivate me to keep going.


Do you have a big dream you'd love to accomplish but you're not sure where to start? Click here and start today with this step by step way to break down big goals into daily bite-size pieces.


Now you can turn your long-daydreamed-about big life goals into small daily habits and finally make them happen.

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