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Dec 29, 2020

Getting Organized: Managing Your To-Do List 

"Make one year, three year, and five-year goals." — Melissa Batchelor, Ph.D, RN, FNP, FAAN 

The New Year is almost upon us; this means it’s time to start out new and fresh and make some New Year's resolutions. One resolution that many people make is to get organized - to minimize the chaos in their work lives. In this episode, I’ll walk you through how I think about time and how you could apply it to managing your master, weekly, and daily to-do lists (all while making it fun)

Steps To Getting Organized: Managing Your To-Do List

When I was a doctoral student, I had to create professional development plans for several fellowships. This is a good idea because it helps you to get your thoughts organized by academic year. If you are also an academic or student,  you have to create a plan and usually by semesters for the academic year: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer. Or, if you are in the business world, you might think of time in quarters for business planning.



  • Annual + Semester Planning. Make one year, three years, and five-year goals and map out steps needed to get there. You will need to plan out the goals that you want to achieve on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly time frame - but also plan out the activities that you need to do. Be thinking ahead about the things you need to be doing a year in advance so that you’re ready when it's time to start the work to meet that goal. 




  • Create a Master To-Do List.  I organize my Master To-Do List by project and category - as an academic, we have three main areas for our work: Research/ Scholarship, Teaching and Service. I track each project and all the different tasks that I need to complete with the due dates on this Master Plan. 



  • I’ve tried both electronic-based and paper-based organizers. Ultimately, I’ve ended up using a hybrid model. My electronic calendar keeps up with my meetings and schedule but I like to use paper to track my To Do List. The act of writing things down helps me to remember what projects I have going on for any given semester.



  •  Weekly To-Do List. Usually, at the beginning of the week, I will create a Weekly To-Do list. This list will include all of my meetings (for work) but will also include any errands (for home). I like to reference my calendar for weekly meetings. 




  •  Daily To-Do List + Incoming. It’s so important to keep track of    what you need to do each day as well. In the Daily To-Do list, I add my top 3 priorities for the day and also write down any New Tasks as they come in. I love to use sticky notes for the Daily To-Do lists. 




  •  Keep it Fun: Creativity in Aging. #NerdAlert!!  I am a HUGE fan of school supplies (pens, pencils, post-its, etc). Use whatever makes it fun for you whether that be color-coded paper or pens. 


If you have any tips or tricks that you'd like to share about how you manage your To-Do list or how you get things done again, drop them into the comment box below the YouTube video or send me a message: If you enjoyed this episode, please let me know, and maybe I will do more podcasts on How to Get Organized and manage your time to increase productivity!

About Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FAAN:

I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (‘96) and Master of Science in Nursing (‘00) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON). I truly enjoy working with the complex medical needs of older adults. I worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home and office visits) then transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer. I obtained my PhD in Nursing and a post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing (’11) and then joined the faculty at Duke University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. My family moved to northern Virginia in 2015 and led to me joining the faculty at George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing in 2018 as a (tenured) Associate Professor where I am also the Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health and Humanities. Find out more about her work at