This article examines the value of creating a single item to-do list and outlines the ways in which it can make a person more productive.

Getting Started

Introduction to the article (perhaps by having everyone read it)

Often, we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by the number of tasks facing us. For some, this results in stagnation and a sense of frustration. For others, it leads to a state of frenzy in which efforts are made to attack a number of tasks simultaneously in order to reduce the load. In both cases, the results are the same – a lack of true productivity and usually a feeling of despair. What is needed to correct this situation is a new approach to prioritizing and handling tasks and goal setting. This article suggests that a good way to address this situation is make use of a one item to-do list. This lesson will have the students reflect on situations in which they felt overwhelmed and to consider employing this new approach in order to overcome that feeling.

Subject Area(s) covered

Careers, business studies, family studies

New Terms to explain


Materials Needed

Access to the article and, for those in a virtual learning situation, access to an online partner


Study and Discussion Activity

Key things students can learn from this lesson

  • to prioritize items in order to identify what is important and to provide some semblance of order when things seem overwhelming;
  • to utilize a plan in order to address appropriately any list of tasks.

Action (here’s how we’ll do it)

  • Begin the lesson by forming the students into pairs.
  • For the students in a virtual learning environment they will have to establish contact with a fellow classmate who is also in the online class. (Teacher assistance may be required to accomplish this.)
  • With this accomplished, ask the students to complete the following assignment:
    • Individually and without consultation, write down your current to-do list and list the items in priority order.
    • Once completed, present your list to your partner, explaining why the items are in this priority order and what process you used to establish that order.
    • Once this is done, discuss with your partner whether or not you feel daunted by the list.
    • At this point, read the assigned article and determine whether or not you believe this approach would be beneficial to you.
    • Discuss your response with your partner.

Consolidation of Learning

  • Review your list and its priority rating, and using the one task to-do approach, choose the item that you will do first.
  • Explain to your partner why you have selected this item.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria

  • The students will recognize the need to prioritize tasks in an orderly manner, thereby enabling them to complete tasks effectively.
  • They will also realize that by utilizing a strategy to complete tasks they will become more productive and have a heightened sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction.

Confirming Activities

  • Employ the one task approach for a week and then report back to your partner on whether or not this approach proved beneficial.

Helpful Internet Searches

Activities to do together

  • Research other strategies for completing to-do lists and compare them to the one task to-do list approach.