I wonder who made the first-ever to-do list. Did you know Benjamin Franklin is said to be the godfather of to-do lists? He even listed a 13-week plan to ensure he practiced virtues such as cleanliness and temperance. I do this too to practice daily affirmations which is very important in changing your habits and forming your conscious mind with autosuggestion.
Some would argue lists are even biblical, with God giving a not-to-do list to Moses. As a maths teacher, I often tell the students when there is a problem you have to think about what do I know? What topics of maths is this question?… Breaking down the question into manageable areas until the question is solvable is a great strategy for problem-solving.
Increasing our productivity daily is key in business and in your personal life in order to achieve your goals and objectives. However, to-do lists are not goals or objectives and should make you feel good not make you feel bad as if you are a slave to a never-ending list. So we need to make better to-do lists in order to be more organised and be able to measure our productivity daily.
Umberto Ego a philosopher and lover of lists states we are simply trying to make infinity comprehensible by using lists to make sense of the world around us. We have no problems making Netflix to-watch lists or shopping lists or following menu lists and recipes, so we should learn to be able to make to-do lists and keep to them
On a side note, I wonder if people make shopping lists that map out their journey through the isles in the shops, a bit like a decision maths question involving a postman delivering letters to a network of streets as quickly as possible by not going through streets where he has already delivered to. Would this be a better use of our shopping time or would this take up more unnecessary thinking time when completing a shopping list? You can let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
And I can imagine for some shopping is meant to be a spontaneous and fun experience, but is this productive? And do we even have to think about being productive all the time? I can hear my friend saying his famously used favorite word ‘BALANCE, BALANCE, BALANCE’.
However, using this train of thought of better using your time, I would suggest the best lists should be broken down into two categories: –
1) What has to be done today in order for something else to begin?
2) What things can be done in the least amount of time? (This is also a method for paying off debts).
My final suggestions for a better to-do list are:-
1) Get a paper notepad so you can limit distractions from your phone. Or put your phone on airplane mode and use your phone’s notepad or to-do list. There are also many apps that I will review in due time if you prefer being paperless and a phone is not distracting for you.
2) Have multiple lists instead of just one huge list. For example, putting things into categories such as devotion time, family, business work, health and well-being, personal growth.
3) Limit yourself to a maximum of 3 things in each list, add estimated durations, and due dates where possible.
4) Review your lists if they are achievable in one day. If you are a beginner do not have more than 3-5 things in one day especially if you work long hours and your lists can not be completed at work.
5) Add tasks that pop up in your head to your to-do list straight away so it does not overwhelm you or take up your thinking time.
6) Make your lists easy to read and scan so you can look at them often.