To do lists

I’m a huge fan of the to do list. Writing this week’s blog wouldn’t be done if it wasn’t on my list. I’m one of those people who have little lists everywhere – in my work diary, on my phone, and on a pad beside my laptop. Each list tackles different areas of my life and I couldn’t get by without any of them; which is fairly typical of an introvert – someone who gets their drive from within. Extraverts are less likely to keep lists. That’s because they get their drive from the world around them. Extraverts are more likely to tick items off a list if it was drawn up by their partner or a boss.

When clients want help getting organised, I ask to see their to do lists. In my experience, disorganised people make the following mistakes when it comes to list making:

  • They never use a list
  • Their list is way too long – I have seen inclusions such as “get up” or “clean teeth” on a list that has 60 things on it
  • The tasks on the list are too broad – eg “finish off last week’s project,” “declutter house”
  • The list is too complicated – one client I saw used 4 different highlighters, as well as post-it notes and flags to emphasise the importance of certain items

Everyone has their own system, but to get the maximum benefit out of list making, I’d suggest separating your list into tasks that are:

  1. Urgent – need to be completed today
  2. Medium term – need to be completed this week
  3. Long term – need to be completed in the next 1-3 months

At the start or finish of a day, the tasks should get ticked off or moved from one list to another. Finally, don’t include anything that you do as a routine eg exercise, eat dinner, check emails. But if you are trying to establish a new habit, such as starting an exercise routine, then put it on the list until it becomes a habit.


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