Why I don’t use a task list

Ian McIlwraith
May 26, 2018
Ian McIlwraith
May 26, 2018

For quite some time, I’ve tried to use a task list so I don’t forget various things throughout my day. Little things like printing a document, sending a specific email, or typing up a letter. However, there’s a problem: I’ve never had enough tasks on my list to actually benefit from using an app.

What will often happen is this. I have one or two random tasks in my todo app of choice, and they’re such low priority tasks that getting them done is never at the top of my list. Granted, my work task list is in a separate app, so with that out of the way, not many personal tasks remain.

Are task apps even necessary?
If I never open up the app, and if the items on it weren’t that important in the first place, is it even necessary? Productivity fanatics would argue yes. Almost anyone would say they are a must. But when you really sit down and think about it, how many things on your task list could easily be accomplished in ten minutes or less? It’s the same approach I take as with email — just take care of it already.

Now, there are certain items that are deserving of a task list. Groceries, house projects — those are definitely proper task list material. But when it comes to what most consider to be “normal” task list material, I think we often gloss over the question if it even should be on a task list.

In my experience with task lists, I’ve discovered that many of the items that make their way onto a check-mark vacant sheet are items that don’t even need to be there in the first place. Task lists are assembled with good intentions; to remember to get certain things done. But what often happens is that they become a place to empty your brain. It’s a problem when task lists become a place to dump 9,537 random things that suddenly came to mind. Are all of them actually important? Do you need to accomplish them all in a short time period? Those are both questions that must be asked.

I encourage you to take a look at your task list and ask, “do all these items really need to be on here, or would I be better off just doing them?” You might just surprise yourself with the answer.