Allwords.com defines a to-do list this way:
To-do list, noun
1. A list of errands and other tasks – often written on a piece of paper as a memory aid – that one needs or intends to accomplish.
I get discouraged making a to-do list every day because I rarely get much or any of it done. I want to. I need to. But life happens and I’m constantly changing my plans. The end result is a to-do list that’s not done, or even close to done. And on top of fighting “life”, I’m fighting myself because a to-do list sometimes makes me feel a bit claustrophobic. It’s like part of me says: “I’m not doing that list and you can’t make me.” My husband always says: “But you made the list!” It doesn’t matter who made it – it’s still telling me what to do.
So if you’re like me and a to-do list makes you want to run the other way, maybe you should re-think your planning strategy and try a little mind game I came up with to accommodate my distaste for a bossy to-do list. Instead of a to-do list, I have a “checklist”. My homemade planner pages are divided into three sections: daily chores, other things do today, and need to do sometime. The daily chores are the tasks I need to do every day, like read my Bible, tidy the house, do laundry, make dinner, etc. That’s where the checklist comes in. The list of daily chores is typed and is on every page. I think of it more as a “checklist” than a to-do list. If I don’t get one or all of those things done, my life won’t fall apart. However, life does go a lot better if I get most of them done most of the time. But I don’t have to. That’s the key – it’s not a to-do list but a checklist. Instead of a list telling me what to do, it’s like a gentle suggestion.
The second section, other things do today, is definitely bossing me. But hey, some things just have to be done whether you like it or not. I try to keep that list short; just a little bossing.
The third section is for things that need done sometime. I mark the more important ones with a star to indicate they should probably be done this week. But it’s still more of a suggestion than an order. I fit them in when I can.
So maybe you need to try the checklist strategy, too. Maybe a to-do list is actually having the opposite effect and making you less productive. Try a checklist and see what you think. And I’d love to know if there’s anyone else out there in planner land who doesn’t like being bossed by a list.