How Getting Rid of My To-Do List App Actually Made Me More Productive
I'm an ultra-organizer and I love it. I just can't be calm and relax when things are chaotic. So clearly I'm a fan of to-do lists. And since it's 2015 (well, actually this all happened in 2014. But same deal), I figured I should take advantage of the lovely world of technology and use something a little fancier than good old-fashioned paper. But what I realized is that sometimes the old-fashioned way is actually the best way. Here's how getting rid of my to-do list app actually helped me get more done.
Let me start from the beginning. Because that paragraph didn't make sense at all.
I wanted an awesome to-do list app. I researched every single one out there. Read articles and reviews. Probably downloaded more than I should publicly admit. I finally found this awesome one called ToDoist (and I should preface this whole article by saying it IS awesome and that's not what this post is about). It has all the bells and whistles -- you can share lists, write messages, it's easy to schedule, and so much more. All good things. Especially for a couple. Which clearly I wanted to get Mr. T on board with all this to-do list stuff.
So I downloaded it. Upgraded to the premium. Had Mr. T do the same. Then I felt really good. Finally I was going to be organized and finally our home life would be organized too. And best of all, it would all be seamless and effortless. It's an organizers dream! I used that thing religiously for about six months. But what I found is I became a crazy lady (both figuratively and sometimes literally). Here are some of the things that I noticed over time:
There's too much damn space to put tasks.
That's the thing about electronic things -- there are no limits. Your to-do list has room for an infinite number of tasks. I was putting every damn thing on that list and it was becoming exhausting. I mean little things. Things that took no time at all. Sometimes I would almost seek out things to put on the list. I think at one time I had shower and brush teeth on there. And I think we had tea time on there as a reoccurring event. Seriously. Who does that? Maybe a little overboard, wouldn't you say? At first it seemed fun. Cute. Productive. But by putting everything on the list it actually became cumbersome. I never felt like I accomplished anything because there was just too much on there. I would start each day with 994 tasks that I hadn't completed and end the day with 994 more that I needed to complete. And I never completed the little tasks because I thought every single thing had to do on there. It was exhausting (it's tiresome just telling you about it).
I found that I was putting everything on one day so I wasn't evenly spreading things throughout the week.
I would snooze some and try to narrow it down, but then I found I spent more time organizing than I was getting things done. Time is precious my friends. Ain't nobody got time to be fussing with organizing a to-do list every day. And, let's all be hones here. The real reason we have a to-do list is because we want to be able to cross something off of it and then pat ourselves on the back from completing it. So if you aren't crossing stuff off, you aren't getting that thrill. I really just ended up melting down half of the time and just procrastinating things just because I felt overwhelmed. I think I cried into my to-do list one time. I seriously couldn't get a grip on anything.
I was making more work for myself in general.
I actually think at one time I tried just using the list to keep track of things so I wouldn't forget and then putting what I actually planned to do on a piece of paper. But really, what's the freaking point in that?
Mr. T and I weren't communicating.
There were several times that we would talk about something and just assume the other person had checked the list. I was also scheduling everything. I wasn't just doing things spur of the moment or letting my mood take care of things. Sometimes you want to clean the whole kitchen from top to bottom and you should. Other times you just want to sit on the couch and play Donkey Kong while eating Doritos and you should (maybe throw in some cookies and beer too).
Oh and I also totally abandoned my calendar which is ridiculous.
I don't need to elaborate about that one.
So one day, after a huge melt down and crying into my to-do list app (again), I realized that the to-do list was actually making my life total and utter chaos. I was stressing about putting things on the list and not putting things on the list and forgetting about the list. And then I was stressing about all the things on the list. It was just exhausting so I deleted it. Just like that. And I never looked back.
I bought myself a good old-fashioned planner and a couple of notebooks. Now I am relying on those (along with Evernote*) to help me out. The planner I bought is huge. It has a place for my tasks, appointments, and goals for the week. There's also a place for tasks I assign to others. And there are all kinds of tips on how to stay on track which I really love. And I'm working on trying to apply some of those tips.
So far it's working like a charm and I've been less of a crazy lady. At least about this. I will always be a crazy lady. But at least I am not crying into to-do lists and phones and computers anymore.
I will admit that I felt a little guilty at first, seeing that it's 2015 and all. There are so many great tech gadgets out there. Many of them that I use. Many of them that are wonderful. I felt like I should (I really hate that damn word) be doing something better. But, I think, when it comes to to-do lists I need to stick with the basics. No matter how wonderful those apps are and how pretty they are. They just aren't for me.
*You may have read my article about OneNote. I was having issues opening OneNote on all of my devices. Sometimes it would crash and sometimes it just wouldn't open. So I switched back to Evernote and am pleased so far. Evernote has this really cool feature where you can take a pic of something and then upload it to a notebook so I've been using that with my actual paper notebooks and pieces of paper to be sure nothing falls through the cracks. It's pretty wonderful. I don't think Evernote has as many functions as OneNote and I miss its integration with Word, but for now I am sticking with Evernote.