To Do Lists

We are living in the age of To Do lists. Numerous solutions are available in the market in print form as well as smart phone apps. I remember Richard Carlson in his excellent book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … And It’s All Small Stuff saying that we are no longer human beings; we are human doings! They have made our lives easier with no more stress to remember doing something and then actually doing the thing when it is there unchecked. In addition, it gives us a sense of accomplishment — and by extension, a sense of control — when we check something off from our To Do list. Here, we need to ask ourselves. Is it the best strategy to spend our days checking things off in our To Do lists?

In my opinion, the satisfaction of life lies in accomplishing big projects. These projects take multiple years of our lives and the their associated tasks are not straightforward enough to be condensed into a To Do list. It is true that we should have big goals but take small steps towards them but the creativity required for these small steps renders them ill-suited to the To Do lists. Stephen Covey also pointed out in his world famous book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that there is a difference between urgent vs important tasks. While completing the urgent tasks feels good, it is often at the cost of important undertakings.

Personally, I use To Do lists for the time I am doing my serious work. When my inner procrastinator flashes unrelated tasks in front of my mind to get away from important work, I note them down in a To Do list. In this way, the work is not interrupted and these everyday chores are also not slipped from the mind.

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