Mastering procedural processes and repetitive tasks with checklists allows you to focus on the larger goals at hand. It’s the minutiae of the workday that can be easily forgotten at the detriment of other important projects.
You may find it easier to compile several checklists (covering personal, study, and workplace, for example). Try different approaches and use the best for your own situation.
To do lists shouldn’t take hours to set up, nor should they be complicated. Every second you spend setting up your task list and preparing for the work ahead is time wasted instead of getting out there and eliminating items from your schedule. You should be able to jot down your tasks, have just enough flexibility to work how you need to, and then get on with it. After all, isn’t the point of a to do list to help improve your productivity?
But in you’re in an operational role, or if tasks are large or dependent on too many other people, then it may be better to focus on a longer-term checklist, and "chip away" at it day-by-day. Many people find it helpful to spend, say, 10 minutes at the end of the day, organizing tasks on their list for the next day.