Is a to-do list really the best to-do list?

Do you ever reach the end of your day and feel like you haven’t accomplished what you wanted to? You can fix that.


Your inbox has a well-known drawback for getting things done: it’s ordered by other people’s priorities, not your own. So each new email can interrupt what you think is important to do today.

Moving your action items to a to-do list lets you set your own priorities and, with some discipline, stick to them. Whether it’s a full-featured multi-device app or a post-it note, a good to-do list can help you shut out distractions and stay focused.

But a to-do list can be endless, while a single day is not. Our sense of productivity comes from how much we get done within the boundaries of our working hours.

That’s why our favorite Working Yellow to-do list is not a to-do list — it’s a calendar.

A calendar’s visual blocks of time show you exactly what you can and cannot get done in one day — it’s a to-do list with limits. You may want to get ten things done today. But can you? Is it possible? If you don’t shape your to-do list to fit your day, you are setting yourself up for failure. You’ll go to sleep feeling like you didn’t get anything done no matter how hard you work.

Block out time for your commute, for lunch, for calling your mother, for checking your email. If you put everything you need to get done, not just appointments, into your calendar, you’ll see your day fill up before you even start, and you won’t be surprised anymore at how few hours there are in a day.

Summer Stipend 2016

This year’s panelists are: Marco Castro Cosio, Philipp Engelhorn, Doug Jaeger, Ruby Lerner, and Cassim Shepard.

The Macktez Summer Stipend is a $1,000 development grant to encourage one of the many people we meet and work with every day to finish their summer project. We evaluate applications on three simple criteria: originality, relevance, and conviction.

The application for our Summer Stipend is pretty simple, and, following the model we use at Macktez, we’ve shared this step-by-step project plan, including deadlines, specific actionable tasks, and time estimates. This year we’ve plotted that task list on a calendar template that you can download and import to your own calendar app. (After importing, you’ll want to adjust the tasks to dates and times that fit your schedule.)

Working Yellow

Download our Summer Stipend calendar template.

Apply for this year’s Summer Stipend by July 23.

Choosing the right tools is part of our second Working Yellow workshop.

In the first workshop, Planning, we identify the power of deadlines and the importance of writing things down, and we work through how to break any project into actionable tasks so that when you’re ready to get to work you know exactly what you need to do next.

In the second workshop, Doing, we talk about how important it is to have the right tools, the right environment, and the right frame of mind to step effectively through your tasks and not lose focus.

And in the third workshop, Collaborating, or Planning and Doing Together, we stress the difference between a good meeting and a good conversation. Plus we look at communication tips that will help you apply lessons from the first two workshops to a collaborative work environment.

Calendars keep coming up in these workshops, as a place to write down tasks and deadlines, as a tool for keeping your attention focused, and, when shared, as a great communication tool for project collaborators.

We’ll be presenting our Working Yellow workshops again this year as part of the summer intensive for emerging filmmakers at UnionDocs.

Summer Stipend Application

The deadline is July 23. Use this application worksheet to make sure you prepare your proposal thoughtfully and on time.

Let this application help you clarify your needs, focus your attention, and set a schedule.

If our panelists are moved by the originality and relevance of your application, you’ll receive $1,000 to help you reach the finish line.

(2016 Application is closed.)