If you haven't read The art of the doable to-do list yet, be sure to give it a good read. One part that really struck a chord with me talks about using specific, active verbs.
When you're telling yourself to do something, make it an order. An item like "Acme account checkup" doesn't tell you what has to be done. Make your to-do's specific actions, like "Phone Rob at Acme re: Q2 sales." Notice I didn't use the word "Contact," I said "Phone." Contact could mean phone, email, or IM, but if you're taking out all the thinking and leaving in only action, your verbs will be as specific as possible. Literally imagine yourself instructing a personal assistant on her first day on the job what you need done.
So now just be sure that when you're Jotting yourself, clear your throat, and posture your voice to intimidate the life out of your imaginary personal assistant and make sure those things get done. :)