How to make your to-do list work for you + free printable: the JOYFETTI today vs. later approach

Something that’s been helping me a lot lately is my new way of writing my to-do list… so I want to share it with you, in case it could be helpful for you too.

The JOYFETTI today vs. later approach

A couple key parts:

  • I separate my tasks for TODAY… from my tasks for LATER
  • & I keep my TODAY list short & realistic, with only the most essential items for the day

Here’s how I do it:

Basically, I take one of those notepads that has a line down the center (like in the pink photo below) & I make a little chart over the line like a lowercase “t”, so I “split” the paper in half visually & create a header. In the left header I write “today” & in the right header I write “later”.

This approach helps me with:

  • prioritizing
  • getting tasks out of my head and onto paper
  • & helps me focus on what I need to do today instead of what I can do later

This has been really helpful for me!

For the longest time, before using this approach, I would put everything on my to-do list—everything that would pop into my head—and I wouldn’t categorize them or separate them as “today” & “later” so they were all muddled together. Did you do this too? Putting everything on paper was helpful because I didn’t have to store it in my head, but the list was soooo long & it was hectic to look at. It was cluttered & chaotic. There was no direction & it was overwhelming.

So now I have the best of both worlds.

I can still write down everything that comes to mind that I want to do eventually… & that goes on the “later” side. And the things I want to complete TODAY… those go on the “today” side.

It’s just easier to look at that way, AND IT’S ACTIONABLE.

It’s clear, I know what I’m focusing on & I still have that luxury of not having to store everything in my head.

I made a printable for us:

If you want to save it & print it, you can use that. Or if you want to use whatever notebook you already have at home, that totally works too—you can just make a simple chart, like I did above.

Here are a few more tips that’ll help:


Here’s how I decide if something goes on the today side:

I don’t add something that’s a “nice to do”… like “it would be nice if I got to it today”.

I’m adding things that I really INTEND to do & should be doing that day.

They’re not just “oh if I have additional time it would be nice to do them”—it’s like “NO, this is what I have planned for today.”

This way I’m not crowding my today list with a bunch of items. I’m really just including the essential items… the must-haves. They’re not nice-to-haves.

I also try to keep it realistic.

I don’t add too much.

I only put as many items as what seems doable for the day. I don’t have a set number I hold myself to every day, I just consider how long each item might take and keep it realistic. One day I might have 4 items on my today list… another day I might have 2. It really just depends what the items are and how long I think they’ll take me.

Because my today list is a lot shorter than the later list, & they’re separate from each other, it’s a lot easier for me to decide what to do during the day.

It helps me A LOT with prioritization.

I just look at my today list & prioritize among those items instead of prioritizing around every single item that came to mind & I added to my to-do list. That’s been really great!

This also helps me from an emotional standpoint. It doesn’t feel good, at least to me, when you’re not completing your to-do list & you’re constantly leaving items there day after day. It can feel overwhelming and discouraging.

Keeping your today list realistic gives you a better chance to be productive during the day & also FEEL that productivity and see your progress, which is important. We’re basically keeping our promise to ourself by doing what we tell ourselves we’ll do—and that helps build confidence & momentum.


Another thing I’ve been doing that’s been really helpful, is I separate my personal tasks from my JOYFETTI tasks—so I have one sheet for JOYFETTI & a completely separate sheet for personal. I keep them separate so when I’m working on JOYFETTI I’m only looking at the JOYFETTI sheet. It helps me stay focused.


As I complete tasks in the today column, I cross them out & put a little check mark to the left of the bullet.

If I get through everything in the today section & I still have time to do more, I go to the later section & pick a couple more items—or however many I can take on—that make sense to tackle next. I’ll add those to the today column & cross them off from the later column, and start working on them.


Whatever tasks I didn’t get to in the today column, stay there for the next day & I tackle them that following morning.

At night, I’ll take a look at the today section to make sure I have a full plate for tomorrow. Sometimes, that means moving items from the later section over to the today section… and sometimes, it just means leaving it as is.

I like to prep my today column the night before because it helps me fall sleep & makes it easier to hit the ground running when I wake up.


Sometimes when I add items to the later column, they’re tasks that should be done on a particular day of the week.

For example, let’s say I’m going to a graduation early Thursday morning & I know that Wednesday I want to pick up flowers to take to the graduation on Thursday—when I’m writing that task “pick up flowers” in the later column, let’s say on Sunday night, I’ll start the bullet with “WEDS” in caps & underline it so it pops out when I’m prepping my today column on Tuesday night.

So it’ll look like this in the later column:

  • WEDS: pick up flowers

Regardless of whats left in the today column on Tuesday night, I’ll move that “WEDS: pick up flowers” task over to the today column, because it’s time sensitive.

When I move it over to the today column, I’ll put a box around it to help it pop out in the today column too.


Since using this approach, my to-do list hasn’t gone over a single page, which is nice.

When my page starts to fill up & I have a lot of things crossed off, I’ll start a new page & transfer the items in each column that haven’t been crossed off yet onto the fresh page.

This helps me keep my page clean & organized, & makes it easier to read.

I probably do this once a week so I can navigate my list better & make room for new items.

This approach is definitely a productivity hack, but it also helps me feel less anxious during the day—it’s productivity, but also peace of mind.

If you try the JOYFETTI today vs later approach, let me know how it works for you. I’d love to hear!

Leave a comment below, on Instagram, or you can always email me at

Chat soon!


Cute stationery for us: