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Why To-Do Lists Are Useless for Students and How to Do Things Without Them

Everyone heard about to-do lists, some people even practice writing them and wonder why they do not work. As for me, to-do lists have some serious drawbacks and even more disadvantages. So, now I’m going to tell you how to deal with tasks without gigantic lists, to be happy, and to stop postponing important tasks, too.

I should admit that I also liked making those lists when I got loads of university essays to do and voluntarily got engaged into dozens of extracurricular activities. I did get irritated if those lists did not work (and the thing is that they did not, at all).

So, I tried to dig deeper into the problem and find the truth.

Task List Writing

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work

  • Choice Paradox. Huge lists consisting of ten points are just stunning you! You don’t know what to start from when looking at them, do you? Psychologists found out that the fewer options you have, the easier it is to start acting.
  • Various Difficulties. Look at your points of a task list. Some of them can be completed within three minutes, while others can take you an hour. Most probably, you’ll work on points that wouldn’t be time-taking. Your list will shorten, but important tasks will be postponed till “later”.
  • Lack of Context. Task lists give you the minimum of information. You can’t determine how much time this or that task would take. And that is very important information. You can’t develop an effective plan if you don’t have it.

How to Work More Productively

There are some ways to improve your effectiveness by providing some changes to your working schedule.

  • 1. Live According to Your Own Calendar

    You’ll need to move all tasks from your list into a calendar, to think about how much time you need to complete them, and then make a plan for a day, week, and month. After planning your time that way, you’ll be able to analyze and correct your schedule and choose your priorities rightly.

  • 2. Use the Rule of Two Minutes

    One of the reasons for task lists to lengthen with incredible speed is that you add many small tasks there. You try to do your best and cross out as many points as you can when looking at the list, but you can only waste your nerves if you do that.

    Use the rule of two minutes. If you have a task that would take you less than 2 minutes to complete, do not write it down, just do it. With time, your lists will become shorter, and once you’ll see that it is all good without them.

  • 3. Gain Habits

    When you start planning your life with a calendar, you can find out that negligible things like home cleaning and shopping create chaos in your schedule. Priority tasks get lost among numerous tasks that are not so important.

To prevent this from happening, you need to gain habits. Go shopping on certain days of the week, sweep the mailbox when your working day ends, and do cleaning on Saturdays. This is how you can teach yourself to complete the ongoing everyday tasks without the need to write them into the task list.

Remember that if you follow only one of these tips, you will be unlikely to manage it. You need to combine them and to try applying them in your work or studying. This is the only way for you to reach good results.

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