Job Stickiness: The Colored Pen To-Do List

What do colored pens have to do with Job Stickiness?

The to-do list

Today,  we will discuss what Reeta Luthra called “The Humble To-Do List” in her comment yesterday. Reeta said, “I noticed when the energetic moments come (esp when they’re later on in the day) people “waste” that period trying to fit everything into your day.”

“What works great to minimize the risk of this happening is the humble to-do-list. Making a to-do-list in the less energetic moments means that when you’re feeling peppy, you know exactly what you really want to focus on.”

I used to-do-lists all of my adult life and tried multiple variations. I used a Daytimer since 1982. Writing the list daily and transferring forward the undone things let me see my progress and reminded me what wasn’t done.

To-do List with Colored Pens and Color-Coding

One strategy from my online friend, Micki, who loves pens and lists even more than I do, is to use colored pens. One day when I was talking about my list, she mentioned this tip and I embraced it.

I bought my colored pens and started color-coding my to-do list. I keep a comprehensive list that covers all aspects of my life. I use one color for Design Resumes projects, one for household tasks, one for the recurring items on my list (like Read Bible, exercise, take vitamins, review financials).

After implementing this strategy, Micki mentioned she uses a red pen for urgent / have-to-do items. I then started using a red pen. However, I confess I had too many red items on my list.

Today, I use Todoist on all devices to track projects. Todoist lets you keep track of everything in one place, so you can get it all done and enjoy more peace of mind along the way.

Why should job seekers use a To-do list?

It is easy to get distracted and to be honest, depressed, when in a job search. By organizing and planning your day with tasks with a to-do list, you can stay motivated and on track.

What should job seekers put on a to-do list?

  • Who to contact about leads
  • Who to send networking e-notes
  • What phone calls to make
  • Which jobs need follow-up
  • Prepare for interviews
  • Review interview prep materials
  • Send resumes to contacts
  • Research companies that could be hiring
  • Contact alumni associations
  • Contact industry associations

Keeping a list at work through whatever means works best for you will help you stay organized and result in “Job Stickiness” What do you think? What works for you?


  1. Dan on January 27, 2010 at 8:38 am

    For me, I find that just writing things down is a great way for me to remember them, if nothing else. Now, where did I put that list?

  2. Reeta Luthra on January 27, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Honoured you quoted me Julie! You’ve tagged me as “Reese” by mistake though 🙂

    I’m going to give colour coding another try. Remember doing it years ago and spending more time choosing the colours rather than getting through the tasks!

    Like you though, paper lists work better for me than on computer.

  3. Julie on January 27, 2010 at 10:19 am

    I fixed you, Reeta! I hurried with my post because I had a 7:15am meeting and was rushing. There is a Reese I know from Wausau Whitewater so my mind went there but I knew who I was quoting. Thanks for the comment and let me know how using colors works for you!

  4. Alisa R. on January 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I’m a life-long T0 DO LISTer, too! And a fan of paper vs. screens of any sort.
    As a person who tends to hype-focus and get bogged down in details, I often let one task lead to non-related, non-priority others, or just get too involved in them. So I recently started adding the word “ONLY!” to most tasks so I remember to stick with it. Funny how the written word carries such power, because this actually helps me stay on task.

    I’m going to try the colored pen idea since I love color and I imagine the color-coding would communicate more organization to my ADD mind.

    Thanks for the article & thanks Reeta for the Tweet notice!

  5. Melissa on January 29, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    While I tend to be a hands-on, tactile kind of person, I actually find a paper to-do list overwhelming.

    My favorite tool to use for planning and getting at my to-do list is Cozi ( It’s a free online tool that has a calendar, a grocery list, to-do lists for the family, and whatever else you need to get organized. One thing I like is that it has a “Shared To Do” list for group projects.

    Great series!

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