The to-do list is an application that draws mixed feelings, uses and research.
One study says that people perform better on tasks when they’ve formulated a plan and sometimes just writing down the tasks can be sufficient. As the researchers note, “Simply writing the tasks down will make you more effective.”
While others researchers say that writing tasks down does nothing but distract and confuse us. So, ultimately, using a to-do list is about finding a strategy that works for you.
This article discusses a few ways to use a to-do list to see if they are or aren’t for you. Here we go.
Paper vs. Digital
It is said that writing by hand helps you to more easily retain information, which can be helpful to organize your thoughts and goals while using a to-do list.
Similarly, using a paper to-do list or planner has the benefit of storing everything in one place, whereas apps will often have you bouncing between one another.
On the other hand, Digital planners offer an array of handy features that a paper planner just can’t give you like scheduling tasks with reminders, syncing them with your email, and creating multiple lists simultaneously.
Not to mention, you can also often sync them between both your phone and laptop. However, when do all the extra “features” just become a distraction?
Choose One Thing
In his book, The One Thing, Gary Keller writes,
“Long hours spent checking off a to-do list and ending the day with a full trash can and a clean desk are not virtuous and have nothing to do with success. Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list — a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results.”
We have a tendency to write everything down on a to-do list, which can quickly become overcomplicating and useless. Instead, you want a shortlist that points you in the right direction.
So, here’s a strategy: start by writing a big to-do list of everything you want to. Take a second to analyze it and find the one activity that would make the biggest impact.
On a fresh page, write a to-do list for that single activity and tick off everything before you return to the long list to repeat the process again.
Stop the To-Do List Completely
If you get overwhelmed and defeated by seeing all your unfinished tasks in one place, then don’t force yourself to make up a to-do list. Similarly, if you find that a to-do list uses more time than it saves, then don’t use it.
A to-do list can be approached in many ways, it’s about finding one that does or doesn’t work for you. Using a “productivity tool” just for the sake of it isn’t effective.