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The Weaknesses of To-Do Lists

28 July 2021

Whether you're a devout believer of the list of tasks or a reluctant list-maker, so many of us keep one. To-do lists, on the other hand, constantly appear to disappoint and overwhelm. In some aspects of our lives, we all seem to battle with time management. To keep getting your life more orderly, everyone recommends making a to-do list, but why do these lists also have a bad name?

Let's imagine you have a great reason to turn this scenario around with all of your noble intentions; you might then take out a piece of blank paper and begin tackling this invisible mess with a to-do list. What typically occurs is that you either become swamped by seeing everything on your list, leaving you feeling even worse than before, or you write the list but are stumped on how to implement it properly.

Some people swear by to-do lists, while others think they are a pointless exercise. The actual efficacy is likely to be somewhere in the middle, depending on how you generate and use your list. To-do lists can help you, but they can make you feel even more discouraged and frustrated than before if you don't use them properly.

Before we go to the common issues with to-do lists, let's take a brief look at its strengths:


Control and Accomplishment

Crossing tasks off your list provides you a feeling of success and achievement, which motivates and propels you to do more.

Better Sleep

Before going to bed, make a to-do list to know what you need to do first, early in the morning. For most of us, the morning is the most productive time of the day, and mornings can be tumultuous, with everything going berserk. Before we go to bed, we have a lot on our thoughts, most of which are activities that have been completed and tasks that need to be handled, and some individuals need to write that down.


Making a to-do list clarifies what you'd need to do. It also gives you structure and keeps you from getting tangled down in tiny matters.


A to-do list serves as a reminder of which tasks must be completed before moving on to the next. This reinforces the notion in the back of our mind that "I still have a lot to do." As a result, it discourages us from putting things off till later. You can't fall short of what needs to be done when you've written it down and have it right in front of you. When you don't lose sight of it, you know practically there isn't time to procrastinate, and you wouldn't get off track believing you will do the work tomorrow.


The act of making a list and keeping it in front of you renders you responsible for completing it. It's silly to argue that you have duties to perform when they're looking right back at you.


A to-do list may help you manage and prioritize your duties, as well as split them down into smaller, more manageable chunks. A to-do list makes it easy to manage your tasks, allowing you to do the most critical tasks first.


Too Much To Do

First and foremost, we overburden our to-do lists. A single individual usually has a hundred separate things going on at once, and an exec's to-do list for one Monday could take more than a week to complete. Sounds like a recipe for catastrophe. Detailed planning works well when you only have one significant to-do task, but as your collection of activities and objectives grows longer, the to-do list is becoming less effective as a tool.

Overstuffing our agendas also creates a constant rumbling of dread in our heads, diverting us from confronting the very things that are causing us so much anxiety. The tension caused by having too many competing goals reduces our work as well as our general health.

Decreased Confidence

Not fulfilling the to-do list can bring the sensation that you are not strong enough to complete a task. This is extremely harmful to one's chances of success. If something causes you to lose faith in yourself, you should not do it, right? Before you abandon the to-do list, consider or maybe ask someone whether the tasks you have anticipated are feasible. Is it possible to finish it on that day, or are you too severe on yourself?

Interruptions, Changes, Life Happening

You go through the day, working the entire time, yet you fail to complete most of the items on your list. When you do not describe specific actions for your aims but do take certain forward steps, your progress will not correspond with the original plan. You can't just check or mark off a task as completed. We also have no control over the numerous disruptions that occur during the day. According to one survey, the most prevalent reason for failing to meet a to-do list was unanticipated tasks such as unannounced calls and meetings. Things happen in our life, in or out of the office, minor and major crises to stamp out.


If you do not accomplish the things on your list, you may begin to feel overwhelmed and believe that the task load was excessive. Because of one or more reasons we could not complete our tasks, our minds tend to become bewildered. Sometimes we tell ourselves that the effort was tremendous and that it is okay that we were unable to accomplish it. On the other end, we'd question what we'd done wrong and lost time and then berate ourselves by suggesting we should have avoided the coffee break for a quick chat and diversion. Incomplete items on your to-do list might induce stress and disrupt your sleep if you feel really bad about not completing them. A high amount of tasks on your to-do list might also make you feel overwhelmed and incompetent.


Incomplete chores are always indicative of laziness. You may have worked incredibly hard, but you might wind up feeling fatigued and then slipping off track expressing frustration if you did not properly set up your list. Most of us end up handling the menial tasks first and putting off the more difficult ones. When you start with the simple ones, the critical duties are left unresolved, defeating being productive and efficient.

What You Can Do

To-do lists, as you can see, are not all the same for everyone. Alternatively, you may be able to perform the following to make things work and be more efficient:


  • CATEGORIZE: Sort them into several groups and limit each one to 7 or 8 missions.
  • ESTIMATE: To plan appropriately, you need to know what has to be done and how long it will take.
  • PRIORITIZE: Obviously, you want to work on urgent and necessary things, but you should also choose some relevant activities but not urgent. 
  • REVIEW: This strategy must become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and check frequently. Choose what you want to work on, consider a priority, duration, and order into account, and then plan these activities in your calendar.

Use Calendar

Those who opt to use a calendar argue that it makes more sense to manage time rather than tasks. When you designate a time for specific duties, engagements, and so on, you oblige to completing them within that time range.

  • Using a calendar forces you to think about your job in time frames rather than just tasks. This enhances the likelihood of things actually being done.
  • The process of scheduling duties on your calendar liberates your thoughts, reducing tension caused by undone things on your to-do list.
  • The more you organize and set your time on a calendar, the less likely it is that unexpected distractions will hamper your schedule. Don't overbook your calendar; instead, leave some room for the unanticipated.
  • When you're using a calendar, you avoid the temptation of overcommitting. You know what to do and when to do it based on your schedule.
  • A calendar might help you keep to a pattern and stay focused. It keeps you effective because you won't waste time doing it if you don't plan something.
  • To manage and control your time, you should put it in your calendar because everything requires time, such as doing nothing. Lists do not reflect however much time you spend getting things done.

Create A "Done" List

Writing down what you do brings surges of enthusiasm and understanding that smooth out the flaws and inadequacies of the to-do list. The sense of achievement that comes from seeing a tangible record of achievement motivates you to confront what comes next, but failing to perceive how much you do makes it very easy to lose sight, surrender to feelings of hopelessness and guilt, and burn out.

  • Jot down anything important you do, no matter how little a step it is, on your done list.
  • Examine your list at the end of the day. Contemplate on and appreciate all of your accomplishments.
  • Assess frequently – whether it is in the morning to commence your day, weekly basis, monthly, or year, or simply whenever you need a shot of outlook.

The done list shifts your mentality by granting you full credit for everything that happened during the day, including what wasn't predetermined by your to-do list or early goals. Taking a step back to admire the blossoms of your labor is a great motivator. Without these pauses, you miss out on possibilities for motivational and self-awareness increases. One of the most potent stimulants for your engagement and motivation is progress.


Your time and mental energy are far too significant to be squandered fretting about anything and everything you should be doing. Instead, attain enlightenment and balance by accepting the reality of your achievements. After examining all alternatives, choose what fits better for your work or living, and get to work!