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To-do List with Priorities using Excel



A while ago, we published a new year resolution template. This was a hit with our readers with thousands of you downloading it. During last week, Peppe, one of our readers from Italy, took this template and made it even more awesome.

The original template had tasks and completion check marks. As you finish each task, you can see overall progress too.

Peppe added priorities to this. With his new version, progress is measured based on how much priority we assigned that particular task. Pretty neat eh?!?

Personal Todo list with Priorities – Demo

First take a look at Peppe’s todo list.

How is this made?

Using lots of Excel goodness of course. The basic components of this todo list are,

  1. Check boxes – to mark each activity as done (or not done)
  2. Data validation – to assign priority (1 to 5) to each activity
  3. Conditional Formatting – to highlight a row when the activity is marked as done
  4. Thermo-meter chart – to show the progress as you mark each activity done
  5. Formulas – to calculate % done based on how many activities are done & their priorities.

Since first 4 items are already explained on Chandoo.org, let me focus on the formula part.

Calculating % completion based on priorities:

To understand this problem, lets imagine, we have 5 tasks & priorities like below:

Data for calculating percentage done - todo list with priorities

Step 1: Calculating weights

First step is to calculate how much weight each task should get. This is a simple job of inverting priority values (1/priority value). We will get this.

Calculating Weights from task priorities - Todo list with priorities

Step 2: Calculate weights to 100%

Next, we adjust the weights so that their total is 100%. To do this, we just divide a task’s weight by total of all task weights.

Calculating weights to 100% - todo list with priorities

Step 3: Calculate % done only if a task is marked as done

Now, we just use TRUE / FALSE values generated by the check boxes to calculate % done. For this, we just need to multiply 100% weights with TRUE or FALSE values.

Final calculations - todo list with priorities - Excel template

The total of this column gives us how much % of all tasks are done.

Note on weights for priorities

In this approach, we are assuming that doing one priority 1 task gives same output (%done) as doing two priority 2 tasks, three priority 3 tasks etc.

That means the weight enjoyed by priority 1 task is twice that of priority 2 task.

Some other possibilities are,

  • Priority 1 is 1, 2 is 0.8, 3 is 0.6…
  • A mapping table telling us how much each priority weighs

Read weighted averages in Excel to understand more.

Download this todo list template

Click here to download this template and chase that todo list in style. Examine the formulas in hidden column to understand this better.

Thank you Peppe

I find this template quite simple, yet powerful. It shows how much we can do with Excel by using a little creativity, simple features (conditional formatting, form controls etc.) and a some motivation.

Peppe, Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

If you enjoyed this todo list template, go ahead and say thanks to Peppe.

Also, use comments to share how you handle to dos & pending tasks using Excel. Share your tips & ideas with all of us.


Over in the Chandoo.org Forums, Asshu has updated this witha VB Interface
Have a look and use if from: http://chandoo.org/forum/threads/to-do-list-vb-interface.28973/


More todo lists: Simple todo list in Excel, To do lists & Project Management


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63 Responses to “To-do List with Priorities using Excel”

  1. Mario 8a says:

    Very useful, you always give us good ideas for our excel files. Thanks
    I've been working on calendars leagues. If you must watch a bit on my blog. http://economiaemergente.com/

  2. Jason says:


  3. Rasheed says:

    Needed .. thanks for sharing

  4. [...] To-do List with Priorities using Excel [...]

  5. Gregg says:

    Excellent spreadsheet.  Nice work.

  6. Jose Pedro says:

    Ciao Peppe!, Tante grazie per compartire il tuo eccellentissimo lavoro in Excel. Tu hai a web blog? - Grazie Chandoo per la publicazione.
    Hello Peppe, Thank you so much for sharing your most excellent work in Excel. Have you a web blog? - Thanks Chandoo for publication.

    • PEPPE says:

      Hi Jose,
       tanks for your appreciations and tks to Chandoo for publishing
      my little job.  it's a pleasure for me to be mentioned on my guru's blog. 
      Just to reply to Jose, I don't have a blog, but if you want to share some ideas or need some help don't hesitate to contact me also on twitter like @peppinogreco.

  7. Great!
    I've learned a little bit of VBA during the last year, and get addicted to it, but sometimes, it makes us forget how powerful excel is, without macros.
    Nice post!

  8. Hi Chandru,
     A very good post. Though I had been reading your posts for a longer time, did not post any questions so far except for wishing and appreciating.
     I have a question here. I had attempted to do something on my own (a little R & D) on the new year resolution template itself. However, I could not do it fully.  Thankfully, you had provided the link for each step , which was exactly what I was looking for 🙂 
     I had done with the check boxes and also conditional formatting. I am glad indeed. I am able to highlight a row when a check box is checked. However, the value of the checkbox gets printed in the same cell which it was linked to. How can I avoid it ? I could not see it in the sample excel files you had provided.
     I appreciate your help in this.
    Raghavan alias Saravanan M
    Jeddah | Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

    • Chandoo says:

      Hi Raghavan... Thanks for your comments and I am glad you are trying to build this on your own. There is no way we can avoid printing the check box value in linked cell. If you do not want to see "TRUE or FALSE" in a cell, you do one of the following.

      • Link check box to a cell in an un-used column. Then hide that column.
      • Link check box to a cell in a different sheet. Then hide that sheet.
      • Link check box to a cell and then hide the cell contents by formatting it with custom code ;;; (more on this here: http://chandoo.org/wp/2009/06/05/hide-cell/ )
  9. Daniel says:

    Dal Messico grazie tanti Peppe.

    A great idea, thanks for shearing it with all of us.

  10. Lovely idea - downloading now.

    What software is used to create the animated gif of the template in action?  Love to replicate to simple demos on my site.


  11. John says:


    I just make the font white for the cell linked to the checkbox or if you have shading applied then font colour = shading so its there but is not seen or printed.

  12. Utku says:

    Excellent! Thank you very much.

  13. Sully says:

    Excellent thanks!

  14. Suresh says:

    Happy New Year.
    Looks simple but excellent. Never knew you could do this without VBA.
    Thanks Pepe

  15. Henrique de Albuquerque says:

    good day,
    Please, how can I create a chart with scroll bar that is also dynamic in PPT.
    I created the chart in Excel, but I need this information to be presented dynamically in powerpoint and when I put the bar rolls loses functionality. please can you help me?

  16. Benny says:

    Come nella migliore tradizione:grandi ma semplici idde dall'Italia.
    bravo Peppe

  17. Vaslo says:

    This was outstanding.  I have had two bosses give me to-do lists that I was very unhappy with.  I went and added 15 more lines to this and it was really easy to so with a little reformatting and changing some links.  THANKS!!!

  18. Aparajita says:

    Thanks. really usuful. Will be waiting for such thing in future.

  19. Juan says:

    Great tutorial! It would be interesting if someone could explain how to do the chart with detail: how to insert the values of the horizontal axis, to create the horizontal bar (the outlines) and the bar itself, etc

  20. DJ says:

    Good Concept!
    Downloaded it but, my Excel 2007 hangs and I have to recover it few times. Finally it opens but, everything is distorted.
    Am I doing something wrong?

  21. tadovn says:

    Interesting idea.
    You give e new way to track my actual planning.
    But instead of using thermometer in this case, we can use a simple bar chart , with data is the total done.
    Reasoning for that, with thermometer, you have to format all the small part of data with the same color. If you have more than 10 parts, it will take your time to finish.
    I tested and it shown the same.
    I'm searching for How to automatically add check box link to a new cells when we add new item?
    Thanks for your interesting idea.

  22. Munir says:

    Thank you Peppe & Chandoo for sharing an awesome idea.

  23. Sara says:

    How do i increase the list ? I cant just drag down can I ? the check boxes perform the same way

  24. RAVI XAVIER says:


  25. Talia says:

    How do you increase the list? Formatting of the check boxes and shading etc does not copy correctly if using copy and paste or dragging cells down...

  26. Pradeep says:

    Thanks for this useful to do list.

    I have the same question as TADOVN. This blog doesn't properly give instruction on how to add new task row. Following are my queries.

    1) How do I add a new row?
    2) If I copy paste the last row to create a new row, the check box get duplicated, i.e. if I click on the new check box on the new row, the previous check box also gets checked.

    So the simple question is.. how do I add a new row so that it behaves the same way as other rows?

  27. Angela G. says:

    Thank you very much! Great to do list template.

  28. Celine says:

    Thanks for the template.

    From an NGO organisation in Malaysia

  29. Leah says:

    Will someone please answer the question about how to add additional rows to this list? I love it, but this is a fatal flaw, as I frequently have many more tasks.

    Thank you!

    • Dennis says:

      Below is how I added additional rows:

      1) Select both columns H and N, right clicked, and clicked Unhide to reveal the formulas.
      2) Select row 12 on the To Do List, copy it, and insert it below in the next row.
      3) Change the 12 in cell C22 to a 13.
      3) Drag your mouse and copy the formulas from cells I15, J15, and K15.
      4) Paste the formulas below in cells I16, J16, and K16.
      5) Right click on the check box in cell F22.
      6) Click Format Control.
      7) Click the Control tab.
      8) In the Cell Link box, change the I15 to I16.
      9) Repeat the steps above. (Change I16 in the Cell Link box to I17...I17 to I18, etc.)
      10) If you are not seeing Format Control when you right click the check box, you need to make the Developer Tab available.

    • Dennis says:


      If you follow my previous instructions, you still may need to go back and change the formulas in column K. They calculate the priority weights and go in consecutive order as you go down the column:

      IFERROR(1/E12,0), etc.

      Some of you who are more Excel savy may be able to figure out how to copy the formulas quicker. This is just the way I figured it out.

  30. Bandula says:

    I am sure I would love this and it will help me to accomplice my tasks efficiently . Thanks Buddy

  31. Sander says:

    How would I be able to delete one of the row (not use 6 for example) so it won't calculate it with the progress?

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  35. Victor says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I took me a bit to figure out how the checkboxes link to the rest of the sheet, but now that I've got it I've created a new page for every day so I can track tasks going forward. I've also added work tasks side-by-side with personal tasks. Once I did that I also thought it would be neat to see how productive I am week over week so I added a nice summery page. The summary builds on the percentage completion for personal and work tasks.

    Love this template - so versatile and yet simple.

    My next project is to get standard weighting for certain tasks so I don't have to keep remembering them.



  36. Jeff Carlsen says:

    I like this template. I may modify how the checkboxes work though for a couple reasons:

    1) It's a pain to add more rows. If I want to add 10 more rows, it appears that I have to re-point each new object to the appropriate link-cell. Otherwise, they all point back to the copied row - checking one causes all of them to check.

    2) I can't group and collapse rows in the checklist without all the objects stacking together and remaining visible in the lowest non-collapsed row. With a simple "x", this would be ok.

    One solution would be to have a simple "x" instead of a checkbox object. I could just use an "x" to mark complete, and make the TRUE/FALSE based on an If formula (If "x" then TRUE; otherwise FALSE).

  37. Kris says:

    I downloaded the file, but it is a ZIP file with several subfolders and xml files. There is no workbook here. How do I open this in Excel?

    thank you for the help and excellent ideas you share.

    • Hui... says:

      Yes, Excel files are special Zip files that actually contain a number of files including your data
      If the file opens like that save it locally as a *.zip file and rename it to a *.xlsx file

      Open with excel normally

  38. s.f says:

    How do you change the color when it is completed....I have multiple companies and need to color code this template.

    Thank you.

  39. Callie says:

    Hello! I have added additional rows, fixed it so that the check boxes work individually, AND made it so that the #% changes when each box is checked -- however the status bar won't move past the midway mark.

    Any ideas on how I can get the progress bar to fill up the entire way once the list is complete?

    • Cheryl says:

      If you right click the status bar, select 'Select Data' and go to 'Chart Data Range' and revise to include your expanded range. The bar chart colors may default to a predefined style. Right click the chart to reformat the Chart Area.

    • Cheryl says:

      Or, to change the bar colors, I populated all rows w/ activities and rank and then left clicked the bar chart color that I wanted to change - went up to the ribbon under the home tab, selected the new bar color from the fill color dropdown.

  40. Cheryl says:

    Love the instant gratification of the status bar! Genius!

  41. Frank says:

    Thank you so much, what a great tool! God bless you for doing this for free!!

  42. rahul saldanha says:

    Nice to show power of excel.

  43. Hui... says:

    Over in the Chandoo.org Forums, Asshu has updated this witha VB Interface

    Have a look and use if from: http://chandoo.org/forum/threads/to-do-list-vb-interface.28973/

  44. Chirag Raval says:

    Dear All,

    There are good job done here & its very helpful for all.
    God Bless You to you all for your valuable working.

  45. Jake says:

    Hi guys,

    I've added additional rows, but the percentages in the thermo-meter don't reflect this when the boxes are checked. I'm lost with how to change this, so any assistance would be greatly appreciated!


  46. Peggy Wong says:

    Hi Chandoo, how you do it for all this check list. it is using Excel VBA, I am not good it that.. still leaning part. and I was trying to figure out. Trying to understand all vba code and meaning and when I use which code.

    do you have any guide line on this, i mean. Exp: dim is what, string etc:

    for all this checking list does need to use VBA?


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