How to Create a To Do List That Works For You (Not Against You)

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I’ve struggled with time management practically all of my life. And it’s only recently that I’ve come to realize that this more than likely has to do with executive functioning issues as a neurodivergent adult.

Who knew?

I have tried system after system and while I have come up with a somewhat functional time management system as a stay at home mom? I know that there’s always room for improvement.

The Power of a Well Created To Do List that Works for You 

With the time management systems (and numerous planners) that I’ve tried before? I’ve come to learn a few things.

  • I do not function well with an hourly schedule/hourly increments printed out.
  • I need flexibility to move things around
  • I need a focus block at the beginning of my day
  • I work well with time blocks

I also need a system that has the ability to be changed every so often so I don’t get bored with it. Because, once I get bored, my brain loses the challenge. And when that happens? I drop the system.

I like variety and consistency. Stickers are a distraction and I cannot be bothered with having to write in months on an undated system.

My system has several parts:

  • A planner 
  • Post-It notes (in two sizes- 3inch x 3inch & 1 3/8 inch x 1 7/8inch)
  • Colored Pencils


I also use my Google Calendar (to get the notifications on my phone) — and a wall calendar. 

Are you an autistic mom or mom of an autistic child? The Routine Toolkit is for you! Created by an autism mom with autistic children.

A Three Step System to Creating a Routine That Works

Now, whether or not you’ve used a to-do list (or if you call it something else like a done list), you need to get all of your reminders in one place. If you’re like me, you likely write notes to yourself on scratch paper. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you want to have them centralized. This is why I keep a stack of Post-It notes (in traditional yellow), next to my desk. I put those notes into a Google Doc. 

These tasks are singular tasks. They might be part of a larger task, but it’s always one task at a time. 

The tasks are also sorted by priority and usually fall under one of these categories:

  • Now
  • Later
  • Done

My next step is to look at the blocks of time that I have in my planner. If it’s personal, I have that marked. If it’s for one of my kids, I have that marked. I block off my time accordingly and then I can see what I’m left with. 

I am meticulous with this and I will record everything. But how? By keeping a daily and weekly time log. Once I have a visual representation of how I’m using my time, I can also form a better plan of how else to use my time.

With those two pieces in place (my master working list & my planner), I can start getting stuff done. 

Why You Should Consider a Daily To Do List

At first, a daily to-do list bothered me. But that’s because I was looking at it from the perspective of just using for that day. Instead? I had to look at it as a list of tasks for the week (or month or year) that were going to get done that day. 

Once I started viewing it like that, I felt less stressed. I also ditched any planner that confined me to times. I work better with visualizing a block of time vs. set half hour or hourly increments. 

And once I figured out my master-list (as an on-going list) where I could move things around? My time management system got so much better. 

With time blocks, master lists, and shifting things around; my time management has improved. I also set up routines that made sense and fit within the overall parameters of my day. 

Is it perfect? No. It is still a work in progress. 

But it works and it keeps me from getting bored. 

Are you an autistic mom or mom of an autistic child? The Routine Toolkit is for you! Created by an autism mom with autistic children.

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Kori

Content Creator at Kori at Home
Kori is a late diagnosed neurodivergent mom. She is currently located in Albany, NY where she is raising a neurodiverse family. Her older daughter is non-speaking autistic (and also has ADHD and Anxiety) and her youngest daughter is HSP/Gifted. A blogger, podcaster, writer, and coach; Kori shares neurodivergent life in a neurotypical world while helping others to do the same. As an empath, HSP, and highly intuitive individual, Kori brings her own life experiences as an autistic woman combined with her adventures in momming to bring you the day-to-day of her life at home. Kori is on a mission to empower moms of autistic children to make informed parenting decisions with confidence and conviction.

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