Many people run their lives on a faulty operating system, namely the to-do list.
People who use a to-do list keep a running list of all the things they promise to get done, but at the end of the day, the list of uncompleted tasks got longer. Their days and sometimes entire careers are spent in a blur of never getting enough done, even though they use a technique that they thought would make them more productive.
There is nothing wrong with getting tasks onto a piece of paper or app. The problem is running your life with a to-do list.
The best to-do list is one you make with a schedule builder.
It's much easier to fill up our to-do list than to actually do the tasks.
Constantly reminding ourselves that we didn't do what we said we'd do cements a self-stereotype: We begin to see ourselves as someone who doesn't follow through. Eventually and subconsciously, we begin to see ourselves as the problem. The narrative is that we are not good with deadlines; maybe we are no good. In reality, the real culprit is the to-do list methodology.
While to-do lists are supposed to keep us on task, they don't.
To-do lists lead to more distraction. A distraction is any action that draws us away from what we plan to do. Working on a task can be a distraction if it is not what you committed to doing with your time. For example, instead of working on a big planned project, looking at your to-do list can give you 'permission' to escape into doing something else, thereby putting off the real hard task.
A to-do list is a cruel and oppressive ruler. To-do lists occupy our minds, stress us out and drain enjoyment out of our lives.
Few people know what leisure time is supposed to feel like. Unfinished tasks invade our thoughts when we try to relax and sometimes keep us up at night worrying about the tasks we still have to do.
If you want to stop the tyranny of the to-do list, you must break the habit of letting your list tell you what to do. Build a weekly schedule instead. For example, study from 2-4 pm, exercise from 4-6 pm, work from 6-9 pm, work on the to-do list from 9-10 pm.
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