… Spoiler Alert: Become a Schedule Builder Instead! Think about how you approach productivity and time management. Are you to “to-do” lists maker or a schedule builder?
Did you make a to-do list for the day? If so, how far have you gone, or did you completely forget about it already? Well, don’t worry too much. As roughly 41% of items on most people’s to-do lists never get done, you are not alone.
Most people are not making the right to-do lists either. The best way to fix it and have it work for you and not against you is first to understand the common reasons why they fail in the first place.
Here are five common reasons to-do lists fail and how you can do better:
Way Too Many Things to Do
To-do lists should never be pages long or used for the long term. Instead, they should focus on daily tasks within a certain period of time you plan to get to work. Meaning you should have multiple to-do lists, not one overwhelming one that will surely get you lost.
You must set hard deadlines and have the discipline to follow through. A to-do list without them only gives you the permission to take your time or not do it at all. Understand how long it really takes to do each activity, including preparation, implementation, and clean up – and never assume you can do double the amount of work you can do overnight.
You Don’t Account for The Unexpected
No ones’ schedule is perfect, so don’t plan it that way. Account for flexibility and always include an extra fifteen minutes each day for the unexpected. You may end up in a meeting, in the bathroom, or sitting traffic a little longer than you realized, for example. So, don’t schedule important meetings or errands to accomplish back-to-back with the idea that everything will go smoothly.
Your To-Do Lists Are Created with A Long-Term Mindset
In other words, you are giving yourself too much time to complete tasks or are creating to-do lists for more than one day. Your to-do lists will guide and maintain your 90-day action plan. They are not meant to replace it. Be sure the lists are to the point and a direct path for achieving your primary objective for that day or even a 90-minute period. NOTE: Read The 12-Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington to create a 12-week (90 Day) plan for great success in every area of your life.
Unorganized and Unclear Main Objectives
Taking the time to dissect and pinpoint what you want to achieve is crucial to accomplishing them. If you can’t have a firm grip on what you want, you can’t be sure you will have the right plan either. Unclear objectives lead to unorganized plans, ideas, and actions. Learn to understand what you need and want and prioritize to get things done in a timely and orderly fashion. In addition, many items on my to-do lists never even make it to my schedule, because they are delegated, completed, or deleted before this next step arrives.
Don’t let your to-do lists fail you anymore. To-do lists are great to utilize and guide your day to ensure you are on the right trajectory to long-term success, as long as they are done correctly.
Build a Schedule Instead!
Nir Eyal reminds us that a traditional to-do list is designed to keep us on track but misses the mark. Instead, the end result is that we are more distracted than ever, and the goals we wish to achieve simply become further away and get pushed into the far future. This is what he says in his post, Be a Schedule Builder, Not a To-Do List Maker…
To-Do Lists Perpetuate Harmful Self-Stereotypes
Ever notice how much easier it is to add things to your to-do list than to actually do them? With no constraints, we just fill up our to-do lists with even more things we’ll never finish.
Back when I was letting to-do lists run my day, I’d blame myself for not finishing tasks. I used to think there must be something wrong with me, or with my inability to follow through. I didn’t realize this negative self-talk reinforced a kind of stereotype that made me less likely to accomplish my goals.
As I described in my book Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, several studies have found that behavior change requires identity change. That is, long-term adherence to a new set of actions necessitates seeing ourselves differently.
Where do you stand on this issue? As for me, I’ve gone from making endless to-do lists and not accomplishing much on any day, to building schedules that keep me focused and productive. What a difference this made in my life and business and I’m forever grateful to Nir Eyal and others who are experts in this area of time management and productivity.
I’m author, publisher, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and I would love to connect further with you. If you have an interest in finding the right JV (Joint Venture) partners to help you skyrocket your way to success, please check out and consider my training at JVs Made Simple so you may get started right away.