To-Do Lists Don’t Work

Posted: January 25, 2012 Comments(3)

To-Do Lists Don't Work – Daniel Markovitz – Harvard Business Review.

I agree with this article just as much as I disagree with it. I agree in that to-do lists do not work. Having a random list consisting of both blue-sky items as well as a reminder to pick up the milk just doesn’t make sense to me. Organizing your lists and categorizing them into projects does, however. Applying a context to each item can help immensely, although I don’t have that very tightly integrated within my workflow.

That’s where GTD comes into play. Personally, I don’t want a calendar full of tasks, I’ve got way too many. Additionally, I think it’s important to keep a ‘Someday’ list, even if it can be perceived as discouraging. The purpose of writing things down is to not forget them. I have silly ideas all the time and I like to write them down to see what sticks. To not write something down because you can’t feasibly take care of it in a reasonably small timeframe seems limiting to me.

I could speak to this for a while, but don’t want to push my workflow onto everybody, just encourage you to ditch a ‘one size fits all’ to-do list and give yourself some structure if you think that could work.

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  1. Personally, I started using a “Things that have to get done” list, a “Things that should be done” list and a “Things that should have been done” list.

    – The things that have to get done are those that absolutely must be done!
    – The things that should be done are those that will be done if I have time left after doing the things that have to get done. If I didn’t have the time, they do in the “Things that should have been done”.

    It’s all about the subconscious. If you say something has to get done, it HAS to get done. 😛

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