I came to the conviction that todo lists are conceptually wrong. Based on my belief that people are governed by automatic behaviour the need of todo lists means that you have bad habits and allow unfinished tasks to pile up. Making todo lists adds a new task ( managing the todo lists ) to the pile and does nothing about improving your finishing tasks habit.
Looking at a long todo list with (old and very old) unfinished tasks may generate a feeling of helplessness and paving the road for the companion of the long todo lists: procrastination.
Trying to work with todo lists usually ends up with running around in circles, filling with despair that they never get shorter.
Instead of making todo lists you should work on better habits:
Decluttering your living space and your life shortens the number of tasks you need to start and finish. As a computer networks engineer I had a number of networked devices in my house that I wasn’t really using any more but kept them “just in case I might need them”. All those devices needed periodical software updates and when those updates had problems I was loosing 1-2 days just for that. The decision to give all of them to recycling freed a lot of space in my house, I gained time by not needing to update them, or clean them. I gained 1 day every month just by keeping only the laptop and the mediacenter PC.
Decluttering keeps you from wasting time and energy on things you don’ really need.
If … then habits
Link your starting moments for tasks to conditions and stick with these rules.
- If it’s Friday and I just came from work then I will go and wash the car, then wash the clothes and while the washing machine is working I dust and wash the floor. (result – house is neatly clean all the time)
- If I just woke up then I drink a glass of water and do a 30 minutes kettlebell workout routine ( result – my fitness is tiptop, no need to make a list on when to go to gym )
- If it is Saturday mornings and I ate breakfast then I make repairs needed in and around the house ( I’m big on DIY )
This way , there is no need for planning your activities, you know exactly when you will do them and it’s more difficult to procrastinate due to having a simpler set of conditions to start an activity.