DO SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE USE TO-DO LISTS?

By Sharon F. Danzger

Billionaires reject the concept of to-do lists.
Successful professionals swear by their to-do lists.

CONFUSED?

You are not alone. Each day I review the articles that appear on the web related to productivity. For each one that I come across declaring the need to put everything on a to-do list, I find one that claims it’s a waste of time.

This post explains the different perspectives on to-do lists and will help you figure out what might work best for you.

DON'T BOTHER WITH TO-DO LISTS

Kevin Kruse, author of “15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management,” interviewed over 200 billionaires. His conclusion? Billionaires do not use to-do lists. As a result, he and others have written articles, books, and blogs cautioning against using a to-do list. They say it is a waste of time.

I challenge this philosophy. Perhaps billionaires don’t bother with to-do lists because they are decision makers in huge empires.  Their role is to make high-level decisions and put out ‘fires.’ I am risk-averse by nature, but would bet that ALL of their assistants have to-do lists!

For many years I did not use a to-do list. Instead, I entered every task directly into my calendar, assigning a date and time to get it done. My calendar was my road map and each night I would print out my daily calendar for the following day. As small to-dos came up throughout the day, I would jot them down on my calendar printout. I would either complete the task that day or assign a date and time to complete the task when I was in front of my computer calendar that evening. This system works fine if you do not have too many small, detailed tasks. But looking back, I don’t think it was optimal.

YOU SHOULD BOTHER WITH TO-DO LISTS

We are all getting older.  It’s a fact. With age, you will have a harder time remembering all of the small pieces of information you used to retain easily. Having a to-do list takes away the burden of trusting your memory.  It also frees your brain to focus on important problem solving and critical thinking. We all have so much going on, do you really want to take the risk of not writing everything down?

While a to-do list alone will not get you to accomplish your long list of tasks, integrating a strategically prioritized to-do list with your calendar creates a sure-fire system for being super-productive.

THE ANSWER?

Although there are certainly exceptions to the rule, I believe that most successful people use a to-do list.  DO YOU?

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