One thing I have learned from to-do list is that they could also be counter productive.
If you manage to get the tasks out of your head and on-to paper, you have made a great step towards being more productive. However, your list could be long if you have many things on your plate.
Questions could pop up; Where do I start? How do I manage to get this done?
This is not too hard to answer though; you just get started. The start is the most important and the hardest part. Once you have started, the next actions will be easier, because you are already in the flow of work. You have successfully checked off the first task, it’s cleared from your head and to-do list and you are ready for the next step.
A to-do list could weigh heavy
However, it could also happen that when you have set the goal for yourself to finish the to-do list today, you could not get it done completely. That’s when self-doubt and the feeling of failure could come in. You should not allow this to happen, but you can’t always help it. The feeling of failure comes in when you do not finish the goals you’ve set out to do, so when not finishing this to-do list you failed yourself, and you will feel the results in your thinking. You might also punish yourself for failing, and that is counter productive.
This trend is what happened to me on a daily basis, years back. A lot of thinking gone into figuring out how to deal with this. There is a dilemma here, because I need to get the tasks out of my head to get a clear picture, but I can not allow this to-do list to compromise the work ethic by failing every day.
Manage what you have finished
What I did was quite simple, but effective. I wrote down a DONE list, not a TODO list. Each task that is finished is put on this list and is literally checked off. Now, all tasks that are being added are achievements, not goals.
This made me feel good about the things I actually did, instead of worrying about the tasks that should and/or could have been finished. It made my productivity go up, because I was not constantly battling a way-to-large todo list with everything on it. Some constraints in my thinking were removed by this, because every tasks now added was a win, instead of a loss. It made me more positive about my work-ethic, because I actually saw all the actions I have taken, instead of focussing only on the work ahead of me.
Now I just write down raw weekly goals that I need to do, as you still need to strategize your way to success. But now, all the actions that are required are just done and added to the done-list. This makes me sleep more easy at night, as I do not worry about all the actions that I did not finish the day before, and I still have clear targets what I want to achieve in this week.
You could try it if your to-do list is weighing you down at times. Please share your experiences, so we could learn more about it.