Raise your hand if you use a to-do list. You’re my best friend if you do. To-do lists are a great way of capturing tasks you need to get done. The satisfaction of crossing off items on your list as they get done or the ding you hear after marking a task as completed on your digital list motivate you to start working on the next task so you can get another feel good hit as soon as it’s completed.
A few weeks ago, a friend complained about her to-do list no longer being a source of motivation for her. Rather than serving as a personal productivity tool, it was only causing her stress. Concerned I reached out to her and told her I’d be willing to help. I guessed that most likely, the problem was with how she set up tasks on her to-do list. It turned out I was right (I enjoyed my Sherlock moment).
My friend has to manage many different processes. There are points in some of those processes where she has to wait for input from other people before she can continue. It was this waiting that was causing her anxiety. She was capturing “waiting” as a to-do list task. Big mistake.
This article is meant to be a companion piece to the article from last week on why you should have a To-do list. If you haven’t read last week’s article, be sure to read it here first. If you already use a To-do list and are here for the tips I promised this week, keep reading.
Stick to the medium that works for you
There is really no difference between a paper list and a digital list. If writing things down on a notebook is what works for you, stick to it. If, however, like most of us in the digital era, you prefer a software that syncs effortlessly between your phone and laptop, that’s also fine. It’s very important that you experiment a bit to find the medium you are most comfortable with. If updating your list feels too much like a chore, the purpose of the to-do list has been defeated even before you start and you should consider changing to a medium that you are most comfortable with.