Inspiring And Enabling People
To Make A Difference
I had a great conversation with a friend this morning who is striving to move away from the structured world of targets, deadlines and process and move towards a life that is more loosely constructed around following her heart and doing what she loves in a balanced way. She’s doing really well in terms of developing clarity on what it is her heart is telling her to do but is aware of a constant struggle when it comes to disposing of her To Do List. It led me to think more deeply on the relative pro’s and con’s of this staple of most time management systems which I thought I’d share with you to see what you think.
2 Pro’s of To Do Lists
1 – A To Do List (when prioritised effectively) helps you to organise your activities.
In many ways, a well constructed To Do List acts like a mini project plan; helping you to think through everything that needs to be done, how much time it will need to complete the task and even setting a goal to finish the job. In this context, as a device for “thinking”, To Do Lists provide far more value than you might otherwise expect. However, if your To Do List is filled with unprioritised activities, it can easily become a worthless exercise as your list soon fills up with items that you end up completing from the top with no reference to their impact on your overall goals.
2 – A To Do List helps you to identify things you don’t need to do.
When it comes to regaining control over your life and mastering time, your “Not To Do List” is more important than your To Do List. This is because to create your Not To Do List you will have needed to prioritise your activities, made decisions on what is important to you right now and focused in on the activities that will move you more quickly towards your objectives. Without this degree of thinking, you are left with a list that contains too much, is unfocused and potentially derail your progress.
2 Con’s of To Do Lists
1 – A To Do List can divert you from your strategic purpose.
The constant focus on small, bite-sized chunks of activity can lead you to develop a lack of vision in the bigger sense of the word. You see this in teams where the leader/manager knows why a certain set of activities need to be done but has failed to communicate that to the individuals delivering those activities; resulting in low morale and limited understanding of how all the pieces come together. Individual activities are hard to prioritise as you aim to do a quality job on everything – even the low value adding tasks.
2 – A To Do List can deflate you (especially when you constantly move items from one day to the next).
I read a statement a few years ago that has stuck with me and I often tell others – “We will all die with things on our To Do List.” However, whilst this may seem like a simple, undeniable, statement of fact, it can still feel demoralising when you keep encountering the same item in your list day after day. After a while, you may decide to put it on your Not To Do List, but all the time it is on your main To Do List, it’s impact on your energy levels can be significant.
These are just some of the pro’s and con’s of To Do Lists, there are others that we could have considered such as the positive impact of having somewhere to store information that you know you will need to refer to at a later date. However, this item on my To Do List was phrased “Spark some thinking on To Do Lists” so I’ll leave it there for now!
What’s your experience of using To Do Lists? Let me know.
If Procrastination is a problem, head on over to our free videos “The PPS Method” – but don’t necessarily go straight away!