Beware of What NOT To Put on Your To-Do List

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Accomplishing what you have set out to do for the day can both be challenging and rewarding

Having a list of things to do at any given day puts a semblance of order into your daily life. However, there are times when you feel so overwhelmed by the volume that you end up neglecting some tasks and moving them to the succeeding days. Making a list does not have to be taxing if you know what to include in your line-up. Rather than tell you what your to-do list should contain, we’ll tell you what you should NOT put on your list.

Lists can change your life if you use them correctly.” – Paula Rizzo, founder of

Repetitive tasks

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A to-do list should function as your guide to help you accomplish tasks that are not part of your daily or ordinary routine. It makes no sense flooding your notes with tasks that you do religiously anyway. Such tasks include answering emails, throwing out the garbage, or making breakfast. Your list should not include anything that you’ll do regardless of whether it’s on the list or not.


Quick tasks

Let’s define quick tasks as those that you can do in five minutes or less. Replacing a light bulb should not take you long, so just go ahead and replace it. However, if you find that you do not have anything in stock, then your to-do list should have a trip to the store to buy a bulb. Writing down quick tasks not only crowds your to-do list unnecessarily, but they also eat up your time that you can spend on other more important things on your list.

If you can accomplish the task in a few minutes, then do it, don’t write it down.” – Grainne Logue, marketing manager of Buckets app

Tasks you never seem to complete

If an item regularly reappears on your list and you keep postponing it, then in all likelihood, you are never going to do or finish it. That is alright. Don’t punish yourself for your failure to do it. Perhaps your heart is not entirely set on doing that task that you keep on putting off. Scratch it off and get back to it once you’re ready. The idea is for you to get things done based on the list that you have.

Flipping your to-do list upside down once a week can help you get things done.” – Jamie Novak, author of Keep This Toss That: Unclutter Your Life To Save Time, Money, Space, and Sanity 

Tasks that can be handled by others

There may be tasks that you can delegate to someone else, like running to the store to buy the bulbs that we mentioned earlier. Even before you create your to-do list, assign the person you have in mind to do a particular task. If the person can do it, then you can forget about putting that item on your list. In this way, you can make use of the time that you’ve saved by doing other more important tasks.

Long list of tasks

Long lists are tiring to prepare and doing all the tasks in the list may be troublesome. It would feel as if you never run out of things to do and makes you feel stressed out. What you need to do is to break the items down into meaningful, manageable levels, and based it on a master list. You have to be honest with yourself and think about what you can do on a certain day based on your time, capacity to focus, and energy.  Accomplishing your daily targets based on short lists provides a sense of accomplishment and small victories to fuel your confidence and allow you to proceed from one task to another.


Long-term projects

You’ve always wanted to change the paint in your bedroom but can’t find the time to do it. Or maybe you want to do some redecorating but don’t know where to begin. Such examples are longer and bigger projects that you can’t just put on your to-do list. Including them in your daily tasks would mean repeating the “task” for days or even weeks. Therefore, it will just make the project appear delayed and never-ending. You can break it down into various phases such as buying paint, stripping the existing paint, painting six panels, putting the top coat, and so on.

Your to-do list is a simple yet very useful tool to get things done and make room for more valuable time for you to have a happier and more productive lifestyle.


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