Some people resist writing to-do lists. They say they want more flexibility, while list pins one to a particular set of tasks and goals.
Still, there is no need to strictly follow a list to benefit from it — one doesn’t even have to finish it to have a productivity boost.
When you keep lists of tasks, your brain works the same way as when you’re making notes . First, you filter information, and then summarize it to write down the most important points. It’s like distilling the data that we receive to keep important pieces in our memory.
Making a to-do list involves a similar mental process. Your brain processes pieces of work you can lay aside, and the longer you think it over, the better you’ll remember these certain tasks. So even if you lost or burned your list, the tasks will still be printed in your mind.
Reading through a to-do list reminds one about the current tasks and forces brainstorming for ways to get them done.
In other words, lists tune one’s mind into problem-solving. Whenever one encounter a helpful resource, it’s connected to one of the goals.
So you successfully check items in the list even when you least expect that to happen.
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Sometimes the biggest work challenge is not to keep yourself busy by hours but make sure you will meet the deadlines. Problem is that it is not easy to achieve, unless you turn it into a set of everyday activities.
Let’s imagine you want to write a book. You can start it without any research or character elaboration, and then spend weeks writing. There’s big chance you won’t finish your novel, and even if you will, you’ll put hours and hours into editing.
To prevent that, you need to follow all the little but important “sub-goals” that will bring you to the result — a neat manuscript you can send to publishers without blushing.
Even in case your agenda changes as you are moving toward the objective, the habit of thinking ahead can help you to beat even unexpected tasks.
Sometimes we leave our lists unfinished. We get distracted by unpredictable events, the flow of unwanted data or unnecessary conversations.
However, lists force us to perform another useful procedure — calendar maintenance. We clear space out to put in work. This is a great exercise to fight off distractions.
As a result, you pull yourself out of reactive mode and get accustomed to planning your actions.
When a task seems too daunting, sometimes we tend to put it off for a while, especially when there’s no deadline pressure.
But when it appears in your to-do list, your attitude changes. You snatch a moment here and there to puzzle over what needs to be done. This happens only when one have a strong sense of an uncompleted task.
Keeping unfinished work within sight, you get yourself positioned to actually finish it.
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