7 Reasons You Are Not Using Your To-do List

Show me your to-do list.

This is a request I ask those who are interested in improving their time management.

It should be a simple question, but often, it results in stressful looks and a hurried search for a “lost list” from several days prior.

If you are using your to-do list to its potential, you need to have it at hand and be actively working it.

Where is your to-do list?

You Have a To-Do List, Right?

A to-do list is one of the four essential time management tools you need in your toolkit. (If you aren’t sure of the four… click here.)

Your to-do list should be your right-hand and have your back. It should be remembering your tasks so that you don’t have to. However, it cannot do that if you aren’t actively using it.

It is interesting how many people “make lists” but then don’t use them.

“Your to-do list can’t help you if you aren’t actively using it.”

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When I look at the reasons “why” people don’t use their to-do lists, I get many different answers (and excuses).

The reasons fall into two major categories:

  • Lack of good time management habits
  • Mismatch of to-do list format/medium

If you aren’t using your list, why not?

Here are 7 Reasons You Aren’t Using Your To-do List:

  1. You Don’t Have One – I hear people say, “I don’t need a list.” They tell themselves that “they will remember what they need to do.” (Only to forget it later.) Or they use the excuse that lists are too rigid for them. Yet, a to-do list is the simplest productivity tool you can have to keep yourself on track.
  2. You Have Multiple Lists – The opposite of not having a list, is having too many. Some individuals keep lists everywhere. At home. At work. On their phone. On a desk pad. On a sticky note. However, you need one list and one list only. Too many lists results in lost tasks and forgotten lists.
  3. It Isn’t With You at All Times – One of the first time management lessons I learned was that your to-do list needs to be with you at all times. You can’t refer to it, or add a task to it, if it isn’t ready-at-hand.
  4. It’s Too Complex – You to-do list should be easy to use. Pen and paper excel in this area. If you are using an app, make sure it doesn’t take 57 steps to add a task to your list. (I use Things and I can add a task with a few clicks or even via Siri.)
  5. It Doesn’t Suit You – Do you have to like your list? I say you do. If you don’t like the medium, you won’t stick with it. Choose tools you’ll use, as I like to say. Do use an app if you aren’t tech savvy. Don’t use a dayplanner if you aren’t going to carry it around.
  6. Out-of-Sight Out-of-Mind – You to-do needs to be visible. After all, visibility to your tasks leads to action. Apps can be tough in this area, because you don’t see them except when you look at your phone. Paper and pen can be in front of you at all times.
  7. Not a Habit – Your to-do list needs to be part of your routine. And reaching for it should be a basic time management habit that you develop. As you get used to it, it should be second nature to work your to-do list.

Are You Using Your To-do List

Where is your to-do list right now?

It should be at hand and visible as much as possible. And it should be part of your daily routine and habits.

If you use your list, you will find that you will be more productive in all areas of your day.

Question: How do you ensure that you are actively using your to-do list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

8 thoughts on “7 Reasons You Are Not Using Your To-do List

  1. Another reason might be that the “to do” item is written in a way thatmakes it too hard to do (even get started doing…).

  2. I like making those lists, but I never do them actually… Your article is really useful, thanks for a piece of advice! I will do my best to make my lists come true!)

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