“I should create a to-do list? Duh.”
Yeah, there’s not much to say about to-do lists. It’s a good idea to have one. Just do whatever works for you.
I include a list of meetings I have during the day, and what time they are. This is as much to orient my mind to the day as a reference (after all, the meetings are also in my calendar).
The only points to make here are nuances I’ve found helpful:
- DO use the to-do list not as a tool to track what is on your plate, but as a tool to reflect on what should be on your plate.
- DO start your daily to-do list from a blank sheet of paper. In fact, I specifically avoid using electronic tools to track to-dos because it’s too easy for yesterday’s priorities to stay on the list even when circumstances change what is important for today.
- DO identify the highest priorities, and avoid listing everything. Almost every framework for to-do lists encourages that practice.
- DO focus on outcomes, not just inputs. In Getting Things Done, David Allen writes that “[a]lmost all of the to-do lists I have seen over the years…were merely listing stuff, not inventories of the resultant real work that needed to be done.”
- DON’T put tasks that will take less than 2 minutes on your list, per David Allen. You might as well just do them.
Also, a hypothetical you might want to consider:
Say, you need to touch base with a friend about something, so you write her name on your to-do list. Let’s call her Lindsey. When you finally see her, definitely do not cross her name off your to-do list in the middle of the conversation. Lindsey will notice, and she won’t like it.
…not that it’s something that happened to me or anything. :) (Sorry, Lindsey!)
I want to hear your thoughts!
This is a “living post,” in that I’d like your help to add to make it more valuable. What have you tried that is similar? Have any stories about the impact of using a tool like this? Please share!
See All of the Tools for other posts like this.