The To-Do list

So many times, I see the advice “Write down your to-do list, set your priorities, work your way through the items, this is the way you’ll get things done most successfully.”

But I’ve been talking to people about this advice, and I’ve discovered that to-do lists just don’t work for many people. They make them, they try to use them, they procrastinate and fail. This leads to them feeling despondent.

This leads people to think, “Something’s wrong with me, I can’t stick to a list, why can’t I use this simple tool that works so well for so many people, what’s my problem?”

My reply to this is that there’s nothing wrong with you. What way is more effective for you?

Since I’ve started looking for new approaches to the to-do list, I’ve found several versions that work for people:


To-do list:

If the classic to-do list works for you, terrific. I make them all the time myself, and find them very helpful. That’s no surprise: Upholders tend to do well with a to-do list. But if it doesn’t work…


Now to-do list:

Some creative people do not use to-do lists. However, they know in their minds the top thing that they need to do today. This is a priority at the top of your mind and you can decide to do it right now. Then do the next top thing on your mind, one at a time.


Could to-do list:

Maybe a to-do list is too much pressure and negativity. It puts you in a constant state of stress or failure. A ‘could-do’ list, however, reminds me that I can choose whether or not I complete the task.” Here the pressure is off to complete everything, so that you do not feel pressured.


Ta-da done list:

This is a positive list. Instead of things you need to do, make a list of everything you’ve already accomplished. You’re often pleasantly surprised and energized to see how much you’ve done, and giving yourself credit for your efforts often make it easier to keep going.


Compiled by Olivia Guerini, Registered Counsellor (SA)

Olivia Guerini

Olivia Guerini

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