Five Minute Journal

A “Great" List vs. To-Do List for more satisfying days

by Kevin Evans — 1 min read

Five Minute Journal

Five Minute Journal

How often do you get excited by your to-do list? 

Seeing that I have bills to pay, laundry to do, and meetings to attend to doesn’t exactly get my excitement juice going. Additionally, my to-do lists often include everything from booking bucket list adventure travel to buying replacement light bulbs. It’s an “organized” mess.

Great List

But spending time with friends, getting a massage, going to my favorite restaurant? When I plan to do those activities, I can feel the excited, playful adult return back to me.  

That’s the difference between a to-do list and a “Great List.

Great List items are specifically reserved for things you look forward to doing or leave you with that spent, satisfied feeling at the end of the day. 

Things like: 

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Eating healthy
  • Visiting friends
  • Writing one page of that book you’ve always wanted to write
  • Taking a class

They can also be more attitude focused: 

  • Keeping a positive attitude for the day and being forgiving when you slip.
  • Committing to bringing more energy for each person you interact with today.
  • Accepting that today is going to be tough for you versus fantasizing it would be easier; making the best of the day. 


Again, Great Lists usually fall into two buckets: Look forward to or Satisfied. 

Look forward to might be watching a favorite movie, planning a night with friends, or taking a relaxing bubble bath. These items are a bit more short-term, pleasure focused. 

Satisfied might be something you don’t look forward to initially, but leave you feeling fulfilled after you did it. These tend to be a bit more longer-term, satisfaction focused.

Things such as forming a healthy eating habit, applying for better jobs, turning off your phone an hour before bed, or committing to meeting new people. For these items, break them down into very small manageable chunks for the day without overwhelming yourself. The goal with the Great List is to light you up at the end of the day. Progress beats perfection. 

When you look back on your most recent days, how many are focused on “Great List” items vs. the to-do list?



Great Lists are included in The Five Minute Journal. It’s the second question in the morning routine section. Whether you use the 5MJ or not, prime your day for personal wins! 

Written by: Kevin Evans

Head of Growth and Marketing at Intelligent Change. I have my hands in all things from emails to product creation. Passionate about improving mental health education. Sucker for donuts. You can find me in sweet home Chicago.

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