“To Make or Not To Make a ‘To-Do’ List?” by Patricia Terstenyak

To make or not to make a “to-do” list?

Write blog. Make dinner. Put laundry away. Get son to clean bathroom. Read.

These are a few things I get to do this evening and I wrote them down in my typical to-do list form.  I enjoy making to-do lists.  On challenging days, I even write down very easy things, like breathe so I have something to cross-off and to give me a sense of accomplishment.  Some time ago, someone said Leonardo da Vinci made lists as well; I never verified that information, though it made me feel like I was in good company.

So what’s so important about making lists?  Lists can help us with organization, memory, productivity and motivation.  As I stated earlier, I like checking things off of my to-do list, so motivation is a big factor for me.  Many websites and time management tools provide advice on making lists.  Mind Tools for example, emphasizes how to-do lists make us more efficient.  We can focus on the important tasks first and not get distracted by lower priority ones.

I’ve also experienced the nagging reminders of things that were incomplete on list or worse yet, not even started.  I would think about the daunting unfinished task during the day and it just wasn’t moving up the priority list.  If you experienced something similar don’t fret, there’s hope. Lifehacker shares “Some people think to-do lists are a waste of time, that they become guilt-inducing drugs that hinder you from actually being productive. We tend to disagree: if you have the right attitude, a to-do list can be a great “backup” for the tasks in your brain.”

 Mr. Umberto Eco once said, “The list is the origin of culture. Wherever you look in cultural history, you will find lists.” 

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For additional reading on to-do lists read “The surprising history of the to-do list and how to design one that actually works”.