The Reason Why Your To Do List Is Holding You Back

Good ol' to-do lists.

Some of us swear by them.

Some of us have ones that are a mile long or never-ending.

Some of us write a new one every day.

We split them into categories: around the house, groceries, work, vacations, the kids...

We avoid them because it’s too stressful to be reminded of everything we haven’t yet achieved (re: we are failing).

We like to add things to them after the fact.

To-do lists come in all shapes and sizes, serve various functions, and are found in all sorts of places: stored in an app, stuck on our fridge, tracked in our journals, scribbled on sticky notes, and memorized in our heads.

In a productivity workshop I facilitated, we had a conversation around to-do lists and a few questions arose:

Why does it feel as though there is nothing truly significant on my list?

If my list is full of things that aren’t important, how do I know what to prioritize?

Why is there nothing on my to-do list that I want to do?

When I am tackling something I think I want to do, why am I not feeling fulfilled?

Through exploring these questions, the workshop participants were able to piece together reasons why to-do lists can feel so demotivating and actually hinder productivity.

Here are some to-do list truths you may be able to relate to:

  1. Sometimes, tackling a to-do list item actually increases stress because we feel we are wasting our time on something that doesn’t actually matter.

  2. We tend to distract ourselves with the easiest tasks on the list instead of tackling bigger things - which is procrastination at its best.