Your Todo List: Why It Might Bite You

You todo list is your friend. Or at least it should be.

It’s not going to bite the hand that feeds it, right?

Wrong.

If you leave it unattended without attention, it might just turn on you.

Don’t let your todo list bite you.

Your Todo List Needs Attention

Have you ever found an old todo list?

Perhaps, sitting in a drawer. Or in that stack of old papers.

What was on it?

Probably a bunch of stuff you never got around to checking off.

Some of it could have been trivial.  But, perhaps some of it was important and fell by the wayside.

What did you fail to accomplish?

What opportunities did you let pass by?

And what consequences did you incur due to your lack of action?

Keeping your todo visible is important. If you want it to remind you of things you need to finish, you have to give it the attention and maintenance it needs.

It’s when you don’t look at your list… that it might bite you.

Keeping That List On Your Side

So, just how does that todo list turn on you?

I often say, “When your todo list reminds you of something that you didn’t remember, that means it working.”

However, when you don’t have the discipline to use your list regularly, that is when things start to not work.

You may overlook tasks. Or miss deadlines. Or just keep restarting with a blank slate.

Here are a few of the ways that not checking your todo list can come back to bite you:

  • Failing to Remind You – Ever forget about an important task, only to find out later that it was on your list? Your todo list should remind you, (in a timely manner), of items that you captured but forgot about.
  • Letting Life Punish You – You todo list is there to support you, but it will stand idly by and let life punish you if you ignore it. Late fees, missed opportunities, closed doors. These can all happen if you ignore your list.
  • Creating More Work – Ignoring your list, can actually create more work for you. Tasks undone will rot and create an even larger workload down the road.
  • Not Driving Productivity – Looking at your list regularly and keeping visibility on your tasks will drive your productivity. Conversely, out-of-sight leads to out-of-mind, and you will find yourself failing to take action on even the shortest and simplest of tasks.

Your Todo List Is Your Best Friend

Your todo list is a powerful tool to keep you on track.

Let it remember things so that you don’t have to.

Just make sure that you give it the care and feeding that it deserves.

Where is your list right now?

Go give it some attention. And it will return the favor.

How do you ensure that you keep your todo list in check?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • robbyslaughter

    The most important (and most often overlooked) aspect of an effective to-do list is to ensure that every task has a *start date.* That means, “I don’t need to start working on this task until this start date.”

    This allows you to hide parts of your list that aren’t urgent yet so you can focus only on what’s outstanding. My list has thousands of items in it, but I only see those that are right at the top. Everything else is scheduled for the future.

    • TMNinja

      @robbyslaughter Robby, great tip!

      I agree that not having todos that are “in the future” can be overwhelming. Thus preventing your from focusing on what needs to be done now.

      Thanks for sharing.

  • robbyslaughter

    The most important (and most often overlooked) aspect of an effective to-do list is to ensure that every task has a *start date.* That means, “I don’t need to start working on this task until this start date.”

    This allows you to hide parts of your list that aren’t urgent yet so you can focus only on what’s outstanding. My list has thousands of items in it, but I only see those that are right at the top. Everything else is scheduled for the future.

  • TMNinja

    @robbyslaughter Robby, great tip!

    I agree that not having todos that are “in the future” can be overwhelming. Thus preventing your from focusing on what needs to be done now.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • MagzParmenter

    I agree, I have 3 sections to my To-Do list- TODAY, THIS WEEK, and SOON. On TODAY’S list, I only put items that absolutely MUST BE DONE today (otherwise resulting in dire consequences.) THIS WEEK and SOON are self-explanatory. I find splitting up my list like this makes it very easy to focus and prioritise.

  • MagzParmenter

    I agree, I have 3 sections to my To-Do list- TODAY, THIS WEEK, and SOON. On TODAY’S list, I only put items that absolutely MUST BE DONE today (otherwise resulting in dire consequences.) THIS WEEK and SOON are self-explanatory. I find splitting up my list like this makes it very easy to focus and prioritise.

  • leapzone

    We like to look at To Do Lists as Action Sheets.

    Often people have HUGE items on their To Do list that are overwhelming and often are the reason they set the list aside and let things fall through the cracks.

    By bite-sizing the items on your To Do list and instead creating Action Sheets for each item, you can tackle your priorities and create momentum while increasing productivity.

    For a sample of our action sheets and to hear a little more about our approach to the dreaded To Do List you can watch episode #15 of LeapTV: http://www.leaptv.com/leap-tv/15-are-you-a-slave-to-your-business/

    leapzone

    http://www.leaptv.com

  • leapzone

    We like to look at To Do Lists as Action Sheets.

    Often people have HUGE items on their To Do list that are overwhelming and often are the reason they set the list aside and let things fall through the cracks.

    By bite-sizing the items on your To Do list and instead creating Action Sheets for each item, you can tackle your priorities and create momentum while increasing productivity.

    For a sample of our action sheets and to hear a little more about our approach to the dreaded To Do List you can watch episode #15 of LeapTV: http://www.leaptv.com/leap-tv/15-are-you-a-slave-to-your-business/

    leapzone

    http://www.leaptv.com

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  • MikeGusky

    A weekly ToDo is to review your ToDo list. Identify what you will have the available time and energy to complete along with the items that have a firm due date that give you no choice. Everything else should be shifted down for next weeks review. If you have a stellar week as far as productivity come Thursday you may even start pulling a few more of those up the list. All too often people feel like their plate should be cleaned ever week or day. If your plate is ever clean you dont have enough ToDo. Its all about constant review and prioritization.

    Great Post Craig. Thanks

    • TMNinja

      @MikeGusky Thanks, Mike.

      Love your advice on the weekly review. Most people are not disciplined around having this weekly status with their list.

  • MikeGusky

    A weekly ToDo is to review your ToDo list. Identify what you will have the available time and energy to complete along with the items that have a firm due date that give you no choice. Everything else should be shifted down for next weeks review. If you have a stellar week as far as productivity come Thursday you may even start pulling a few more of those up the list. All too often people feel like their plate should be cleaned ever week or day. If your plate is ever clean you dont have enough ToDo. Its all about constant review and prioritization.

    Great Post Craig. Thanks

  • MikeGusky

    A weekly ToDo is to review your ToDo list. Identify what you will have the available time and energy to complete along with the items that have a firm due date that give you no choice. Everything else should be shifted down for next weeks review. If you have a stellar week as far as productivity come Thursday you may even start pulling a few more of those up the list. All too often people feel like their plate should be cleaned ever week or day. If your plate is ever clean you dont have enough ToDo. Its all about constant review and prioritization.

    Great Post Craig. Thanks

  • MikeGusky

    A weekly ToDo is to review your ToDo list. Identify what you will have the available time and energy to complete along with the items that have a firm due date that give you no choice. Everything else should be shifted down for next weeks review. If you have a stellar week as far as productivity come Thursday you may even start pulling a few more of those up the list. All too often people feel like their plate should be cleaned ever week or day. If your plate is ever clean you dont have enough ToDo. Its all about constant review and prioritization.

    Great Post Craig. Thanks

  • TMNinja

    @MikeGusky Thanks, Mike.

    Love your advice on the weekly review. Most people are not disciplined around having this weekly status with their list.