(CNN)1. Wake up.
2. Make coffee.
3. Write this story.
In a time when it seems like we may have less to do, a to-do list actually could be quite helpful.
As the days blend together for many people living in lockdown, crossing things off a to-do list can feel even more satisfying. To-do lists can be great tools for decreasing anxiety, providing structure and giving us a record of everything we've accomplished in a day.
The trick is to reframe your to-do list as a set of miniature goals for the day and to think of your checklist items as steps in a plan.
Research on the psychology of goal-making has revealed that an unfinished goal causes interference with other tasks you're trying to achieve. But simply making a plan to facilitate that goal, such as detailing steps on a to-do list, can help your mind set it aside to focus on other things.
"Goals are interesting as they are almost these autonomous agents that kind of live inside you and occupy space in your mind," said E.J. Masicampo, an associate professor of psychology at Wake F