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Are To-Do lists even productive, or is it just another headache to add to everything?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I use Wunderlist to organize parts of my life. It is on my iPhone, Computer, and iPad; up 100% of the time. When something pops into my mind, I use the GTD (Getting Things Done) philosophy and initially transfer it from my brain to my Wunderlist inbox, getting rid of any information in my brain so that I can be more efficient and not have to consistently change tasks.


After there are tasks within my Inbox folder of Wunderlist I begin to file them away into my many folders, and project lists. It is essentially a funneling technique, some are prioritized, while others may not get done for months, maybe even a year.


A Year?!


Yeah, let’s talk about this. This is my issue. I absolutely hate clutter, and I don’t even bother buying many physical things now—it just adds unnecessary clutter into my life. I like to have everything in soft copy so that I can file everything away into my computer folders. Everything I ever need is stored on my computer or in the cloud. I’ve noticed, if there is any clutter within those regions, I start to panic slightly. It is virtual clutter in my life, similar to physical clutter. By keeping something on my To-Do list for a year, it is just more clutter in my life, something else that I am not getting done properly.


So this gets to my point, is it just another headache to add to my life? I think so, but what else can I do. I am so much more productive (at least that’s what my mind is probably tricking me into thinking) with my To-Do list. Let me also go on a quick tangent, email. Email is usually fake work, it is something that is there to think you’re actually doing work, but it usually ends up being less productive than you actually think.


Okay, back to To-Do lists. How can you fix this? I think you have to do more integration. I have so many things that I have to do on my To-Do list, but I allow myself to choose what to do. This is the problem, I don’t want to do the hard things I have to do, so naturally, I choose to pick the easy things. This is human nature, and it is really hard to correct. To try to counter this, I’ve been separating my lists into names such as: “ASAP” and “5 Minute Tasks.” I also have a lot of location based lists, project based lists, bored lists, etc. I even set reminders, deadlines, notes, everything I can do to fix my problem.


Has it worked? Yup, it is working, but I never think that it will be fully fixed. It is the nature of my personality, nothing is ever done right for me. There is always improvement.




I’ve been using my calendar for years. I’ve used many types too: iCal, Google Calendar, Physical Calendars, and even Sunrise. I’ve just ended up using iCal since it easily integrates with most of my stuff and it is simple and clean. Sunrise integrated directly with my Wunderlist, but I ended up having too much clutter again. This is why I went to iCal, but yeah… it is pain where you usually have to manually enter everything. But for a calendar, this is a great thing. You can plan out your calendar perfectly for you.


I’ve been taking tasks from my Wunderlist that are incredibly important, that I know will take some time and I have been creating appointments for myself to complete. I schedule out a certain time period for put directly into the task and use the Pomodoro technique to get as much done, productively. And I can tell you, this has been working out so great.


If I miss the appointment, oh well. Everything has a time period and I stick to it. Nothing starts early, nothing ends late. This is why calendars are so useful. It not only designates your task, but it tells you the date and time it needs to be done by.


So far, I have been liking this, even though it is in my testing phase. I have been doing it for a couple of months now by integrating Wunderlist and iCal manually.


Some Tips

  • Set time aside to organize your To-Do list and then merge it with your calendar
  • I recommend bulk-grouping tasks, rather than do a certain tasks over and over when it can be done in one blow
  • Find a To-Do list and Calendar that work for you before trying to merge the two together, it will be overwhelming to try to find two applications to do so much at the same time
  • Paper To-Do lists transferred to a calendar: my mom does this, and it seems to work amazingly well for her. It also forces you to throw out your To-Do list every single day (I have tried this in college, it worked decently well, but I don’t really like paper)



Future Thoughts


Yeah, nothing is perfect, and no one thing works for every person. This may or may not work for you, but I would say give it a shot. I’ve been recommended to try out OmniFocus 2 by my friend. I am going to start using is soon, I know there is going to be a learning curve, so I’m going to set some time aside (on my calendar of course) to learn everything I can about it. It sounds like awesome software from what I’ve read, and it may be replacing both my calendar and To-Do list.


Hope this helped, let me know how you organize your life and if you think it is effective or not.