How often do you use your to-do list? Do you use it on a daily or weekly basis? The truth is, it doesn’t really matter. We all seem to be looking for that simple solution to systemize our planning and get everything done, yet with all the advice and tools out there, it’s certainly not easy to put into action.
In fact, that’s the first problem, there’s too much out there! Wouldn’t you agree? Never mind an ever-growing to-do list haunting you each day. When I started working as a productivity coach, I always struggled to master my to-do list. I starting adding columns for time estimates and priorities, but I never seemed to feel very productive with it. Over time I started to find that without my to-do list, I was actually more productive.
Below, are 5 reasons why you should consider ditching your to-do list:
1. Not having a list forces you to schedule your tasks
Productivity is all about action; this is my top reason for ditching the list. When something is on a list, there is no action, but when it is in your calendar, you are more likely to take action. When you want to put something on a list, take a minute to think about when the best time to do it is. Then schedule it directly into your calendar.
Don’t put it on a list; you commit when you schedule. You can always reschedule the task, but if you have all your to-do’s in your calendar, you can also see how much time you actually have and this forces you to prioritize as well. Maybe you don’t actually need to have that item on the list in the first place.
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee
2. A never-ending list only makes you feel overwhelmed
Having a long to-do list is very overwhelming and frustrating. It’s not exciting to know that you have a million tasks to still get through and every day you will keep adding more. The mind gets overwhelmed and you wonder how you will ever get anything done. That is counterproductive and leaves you feeling like you will never see the end of the list. Why do you want to do this to yourself?
3. A to-do list gives you a false sense of accomplishment
Another form of procrastination happens all the time with lists; choosing items that will give you quick gratification and menial tasks that don’t really need to be done. I’m betting most people choose tasks based on other criteria than importance; tasks that make you feel busy, but get you nowhere. You will most likely tick off the easy tasks to give you a sense of accomplishment, but you know you really aren’t getting any closer to your real goals.
4. Don’t have so many systems to co-ordinate
Having one less ‘system’ to use helps you save heaps of time. You don’t need to have an extra list where you spend time writing everything down and then again, reviewing it regularly. Imagine how much time is saved there alone. You can keep your notes and your future ideas and plans in another system.
If you use Google Keep, it works really well to keep your notes and ideas there and you can even put reminders for the future linked to your calendar so you know you will come back to it. There are other ways to keep your notes.
“People are remarkably bad at remembering long lists of goals. Clarity comes with simplicity.” – Brendon Burchard
5. To-do lists are unclear
Last but certainly not least, this was the first frustration I found with the lists. Not having any idea what the priority level was or how long the task would take. So, I started adding columns to my lists, including how long I think the task would take and how important it was. Going through that list though, wasn’t so easy and it just felt like such a huge task every day. I knew something was amiss.
I felt so free the day I decided to ditch my to-do list. At the end of the day, productivity is about doing things smarter, and I think it’s clear that to-do lists are something of the past, or they should be. To-do lists don’t help you free up more time, they take time away from you!
Not all the tools and tricks of the past work today and this is another example of that. The most productive people don’t use lists, they schedule their to-do’s and if you really want to take your productivity to the next level, you should too.