I respect this post, but this is not a one size fits all solution and seems to narrowly focus on people who this method does work for, and not the percentage of people who are more productive when they create a to do list that works properly. I believe that a To Do List when used wrong can hurt productiveness, and that people are more successful if they get rid of it if not applying correct techniques, but that a To Do List when applied right is an amazing tool to have.
While there are successful people who don’t use to do lists there are other groups of successful people who DO use to do lists. But more often than not they’re probably using a combinations. Every night before bed/or early morning when just waking up/ I set a time to write my to do list, and break it down into Most Important Tasks, I prioritize and I categorize my list, into what needs to be done. Then I pick the most important thing and I focus on that single thing for the day. If I get it done and have time, I move onto the next day. I keep the to do list organized by months, dates, years. In a year I look back and I can ‘see’ the progress I’ve made and am amazed at how far I’ve gotten. It’s like a journal of daily accomplishments. Some things get pushed off and never get done, other things get delegated, but I always have a clear picture of what needs to be done, both for the big picture and the little details that make it happen.
Another thing I do is I write to do lists always in present tense, I use “MIT” (most important tasks), I categorize them (I also separate work from personal categories), I set deadlines for them (general schedule without ‘time or hours’, as I like flexibility and room to breathe), I make sure R&R is in there, and I use what can be summed up as S.M.A.R.T. to make sure they are measureable and concise goals, that state clearly. At the start of the year I write my overall goals, and then throughout the year I set daily goals and progress. I sometimes use a visual mind map to keep track of all the goals and what’s been accomplished thus far, and what has yet to be accomplished. When I’m procrastinating and not sure where to go next, I simply look at my progress. I also visualize and write affirmations and I am very flexible. I leave room to go off course and don’t get rigid.
People say I am very productive and prolific. I credit it to my efficient ways of utilizing to do lists as a focusing tool and then scheduling that list into my life. So it’s a combination.