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37 Universal Verbs for Your Projects

Originally published on www.productiveflourishing.com

A common trip-up when people make to-do lists is a) they don’t use verbs when they write their tasks or b) the type of verbs they’re using to describe the ‘to-do’ isn’t working for them.

Using verbs when creating our projects and project chunks helps us create momentum on our projects so we don’t spend time: 

  • Re-doing work (*blech*)
  • Looking over the same tasks (for the 100th *bleeping* time) or 
  • Missing essential pieces of the project

To make sure verbs are doing more work for us, I shared more potential verbs you can use in Chapter 4 of my book, Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done

These universal verbs are effective for different types of work, depending on what level of planning you’re looking at. More than just providing more verbs, the key insight is that the verbs themselves hint at what size of project you’re dealing with. 

Furthermore, these verbs create natural sequences. Thus, using these 37 verbs consistently helps you chunk, sequence, and plan your action steps.

Who knew verbs could do so much work?

The 37 Verbs, Broken Down By Time Horizon

Here are the 37 most important verbs to have on your task list to relate to the time horizon of your project:

Quarter- or month-sized verbs:

  • Rework
  • Develop
  • Strategize
  • Launch/ship
  • Build
  • Publish
  • Kick-off
  • Move/relocate

Week-sized verbs:

  • Research
  • Decide on
  • Collaborate with
  • Create
  • Plan
  • Design
  • Analyze/evaluate
  • Coordinate
  • Promote
  • Edit
  • Apply

Task-sized verbs:

  • Email
  • Call
  • Sort
  • Read
  • Send
  • Check
  • Review
  • Find
  • Compile
  • Schedule
  • Make
  • Text
  • Fax
  • Mail
  • Print

The Verbs in Context of a Project

It’s easier to see these verbs work in the context of a project. Let’s say you’re wanting to reach a monthly goal of publishing 30 articles in 30 days. The verb you’d be using at the monthly level task list is “publish”. 

But you can’t publish something without creating and editing it first, and you can’t create it without planning and researching — before creating and editing. 

With this in mind, “research” and “plan” would be weekly-level task verbs you use to create your to-do list so that you can push your monthly goal of “publish” forward.

It might look something like this:

Monthly Project:

  • Publish 30 articles in 30 days

Weekly Projects:

  • Research other similar posts on the topics I wish to cover
  • Plan what content to write for each day

Daily tasks:

  • Review Blog post drafts
  • Schedule Blog post drafts

When you go to add a project or even a project chunk in the app (read more here on how to add your chunks) the verb you use is extremely important. The verb is what gives us an idea of the size of the work.  

The noun is also important, but that stays the same. If it’s “research a chapter of my book” or “edit a chapter of my book”, the noun is still ‘book’. 

Formulating your task list this way, you can easily piece together how your projects are linked, how much space a project might need and how to create the space for it in your planner.

And if you don’t get it all perfect at first, don’t worry, you’re not doing it wrong. Planning takes practice and patience. Try it with smaller projects, first, and work your way up from there.

Charlie Gilkey

Charlie is the co-founder of Momentum and the award-winning author of Start Finishing