I’ll keep it short. Here’s a quick tip on managing your to-do list:

Make sure every entry on your to-do list starts with a verb.

Like mold growing in a wet, warm place, procrastination thrives when tasks are ill-defined and vague. The more specific you can be about the action Future You is supposed to perform, the lower the barrier to performing that action will be.

For example, these entries

  1. Lawn care research
  2. Academic calendar shipment—where are we at on this?
  3. Next year’s vacation

should become these:

  1. Ask Cindy whom she uses for lawn care
  2. Call Javier for a status update on the academic calendar shipment
  3. Google “northern Michigan vacations” and identify three possible vacation houses

Starting each entry with a verb requires a little more thought when adding a new entry to your to-do list, but it saves time in the long run. And like many good habits, it soon becomes automatic.