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A51 The 'To Do Diary' guide

How to use this simple tool

First published on this website in October 2021 and last updated in October 2023

Words: 9000
Size: 346 kB
Categories: Administration , Leadership


For some years I have promoted a self-management tool which I call the ‘To Do Diary’. There is already an outline of this on this website at Training Notes TN23, How to do ‘To Do’ lists. Now I have written a more detailed explanation to help anyone use this tool effectively.

It was first devised for Ministers but applies well to all church staff and wider than this too. It combines a normal engagement diary with two different types of ‘To Do’ list, one for tasks likely to take at least 45 minutes and the other for much quicker actions of under about 30 minutes – many will take no more than five. These three are known as:

  • Timed Engagements (TE)
  • Main Tasks (MT)
  • Quick Actions (QA).

The key point is that these are allocated to a specific diary date, unlike many people’s ‘To Do’ lists. At the end of the day you note any items not actioned and either decide they simply will not happen or move them to another page. So, at this point, nothing is outstanding – tomorrow’s list can wait for tomorrow. You can sleep in peace.

There are several other points to note such as the value of ticking items when actioned and the need to allocate ‘Pack’ and ‘Unpack’ time for all meetings and events.


Here is the link to this item: PDF A51 - The 'To Do Diary' guide.pdf

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Author's notes

An Archdeacon writes: "I’ve just flicked this open and smiled as I have never looked back since you told me about diarising actions and avoiding a long ‘to do’ list. Thank you!"

This article was updated in October 2023 with minor changes to text and layout.