I Started Doing More Once I Quit Writing To-Dos

As it turns out, the act of writing a list was not making me a more productive person

Rachel Levy Lesser
Moms Don’t Have Time to Write
3 min readMar 15, 2022


I’ve always loved a good to-do list.

To be fair, I love most kinds of lists — shopping lists, best-of lists, guest lists — but I’m not a big fan of bucket lists. I have been making lists for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I made lists of my homework assignments, of my friends’ birthdays, and things I didn’t want to forget to tell people. I kept a notepad and pencil on my bedside table in case I thought of a late addition.

When I started my first real job after college, I took my lists to the next level, having legitimate responsibilities and all. I tried many of the lists/productivity systems. There was the Franklin Covey planner, to which I subscribed for a while and faithfully bought my refills at the start of every calendar year. I made weekly to-do lists on Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. I was quite taken with writing down lists on my space-age Palm Pilot (or so it seemed during the 1990s), complete with the stylus and fancy fake suede case. Mine was light blue.

As life threw more tasks at me, I found myself making more lists. I’ve made to-do lists on legal pads, spiral notebooks, those cute personalized notepads I received as gifts, sticky notes, and scraps of paper near my desk or in my purse. I’ve tried paperless to-do lists with productivity systems on my laptop and phone. I’ve…