why to do lists are not effective

I know the struggle – you make a to do list and have the best intentions to tackle it ASAP but things come up. You get distracted or have other things that need to be done before getting to the to do list tasks. This is the start of a series of Time Management blog posts that will help you manage your time and get those to do lists done! To start off, I will tell you why to do lists don’t work so you will understand the reasons behind the rest of the articles.

Your list just keeps growing

Does your to do list seem like it’s just getting longer? You get some things done, check some things off, but in the end, your to do list is even longer than when you first started it. It is just becoming a bit of a mess!

Your list is not helping you get things done

Your to do list is not actually helping you get things done. That list is only helping you remember what needs to be done. You may get something done tomorrow or it could be done in three months – it doesn’t matter what the timeline is. That list is just a collection of all tasks needed to be done, no matter how urgent or important.

Your to do list doesn’t tell you how long each task takes

I mean, I guess you could write out how long you think a task should take as you write out all of your tasks, but it’s not really going to be very effective. It’s still just a list.

Your to do list is adding more stress

Your to do list keeps getting longer, you’re not completing the tasks as quickly as you thought you would, you have distractions that always come up.. this is a lot of unnecessary stress in your life.  It’s the opposite of what you were trying to accomplish by making the list in the first place! Wouldn’t you like to not stress over your to do list?

Hang on! Don’t just ditch your to do list!

Sorry guys, I didn’t mean to sound so negative – I just wanted you to see why simple to do lists don’t work and not enough to be productive and manage your time well.

I still want you to keep a to do list though!

A to do list is still a great tool to use to remember what you have to do, whether it’s today or a year from now. You use it as a reference so you don’t forget tasks as they keep being added on.

Another benefit of making a to do list is to brain dump everything on your mind. Get everything you’re thinking about out of your mind and onto paper (or computer or phone app). I don’t really like that phrase – brain dump – sounds weird to me, but it gets the point across – that you need to declutter your mind. You won’t have to remember everything because it’s already written down! Brain dumping frees up space for new thoughts and ideas and allows you to think deeper on the task at hand.

The point is that those tasks on your to do list aren’t very organized. Read the next post to find out how to organize your to do list and make it more effective.

Do you struggle with to do lists? Do you have tips that have worked for you? Let me know in the comments below!