How To-Do Lists Reduce School Stress

When students are overwhelmed with schoolwork and stress is piling up, To-Do lists can help! To-Do Lists help students sort through their work, prioritize their assignments, and feel motivated to dig in. Here’s why:

Our brains love ordered tasks. A 2011 study showed that uncompleted tasks could be distracting, but simply planning to get them done can lessen anxiety. Humans tend to perform better when we have written down what we need to do. Learn more about the psychology of to-do lists here.

To-Do Lists are a tried-and-true technique: first, determine what you need to do, then determine the sequence the tasks need to follow. It’s a simple process:

  • write down each task
  • work in the task
  • cross each task off as completed

But be careful! Many to-do lists are actually not very effective. Avoid to-do lists that are too long or too vague, which makes it difficult to know where to start and how much time each task will take.

Creating an Effective To-Do List in Four Simple Steps

Here are four easy-to-follow tips for making an effective to-do list: 

  1. Determine the work scope and sequence 
  2. Write out every task and step 
  3. Complete the tasks in order
  4. Cross them out as completed

Simply by creating a To-Do List, students will feel more organized, in control, and accomplished, which can reduce stress levels and encourage motivation.

Pro Tips for Do-Lists that Work Well

Start Big: The first task on your to-do list should always be the most important one. Never start with small tasks; getting the big tasks out of the way first is the more effective approach.

Consider the Time. When making a to-do list, it’s important to consider the timeframe. Assign an estimated time to each item on the list according to when the items need to be completed—by the hour of the day. 

Be Specific: When writing a to-do list, ensure each task has a specific action associated with it. For example: “Finish English homework” is not effective because it’s vague and doesn’t tell you what to do. Instead, write Complete Shakespeare’s impact on world literature unit for English class. The more specific the details, the easier accomplishing the task becomes.

Tackle Your To-Do List with GradePower Learning

Every GradePower Learning program builds organization and study skills into the curriculum. Students learn simple techniques to make learning and studying simpler.

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