3 Mistakes People Make When Using a To-Do List

productivity to do list Jun 10, 2021
3 Mistakes People Make When Using a To-Do List

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On this episode of The Life Without Overwhelm Show three mistakes people are making with their to-do list.

Now, as I give you these three things, I want you to think about, I want you to think about if you are committing these mistakes. I will venture a guess most people that read these words, are committing one, two, or all three of these at different times of their lives.

So let's talk about the first mistake people make when it comes to their to-do lists.

Number one, not even having one.

How many people do you know or maybe you're one of these people that keep everything you need to do up in your noggin? "I won't forget anything, I got it. I can remember everything. Due dates, what I need to pick up at the store, bills I need to pay. I don't need a to-do list. It's right up here in my noggin, my cranium, my brain, between my ears."

Here's the problem with that. Neuroscience has told us that the brain can only remember so many things. Now, I don't know what that exact number is. And it really doesn't matter. Here's what I want you to think about. When you try to remember too many things. Guess what happens, your brain gets stressed. Because your brain says, "obviously, this is important. So I got to remember it. And I gotta remember that. And I gotta remember that. Now I gotta remember this, this, that, and the other thing." They have to try to remember everything.

But here's the magic of a to-do list. As soon as you write it down, your brain sees that you have written it down and it goes, "Oh, I can let it go." So help your brain out. Don't keep everything in your head, you will not remember everything. I promise you. Now, if you think "Mark, I'm different. Mister Productivity, I'm different. What you're saying doesn't apply to me".

Have you ever had a situation where you have a lot of things in your head, and all of a sudden, something traumatic happens? Maybe you get in a car wreck, maybe you get a ticket from the police officer, maybe someone calls you with some bad news. You ever forgotten what you were thinking about that you couldn't forget? So please use a to-do list.

The second mistake people make when it comes to to-do lists is what I call the Dead Sea.

Now, over in Israel, there's a sea called the Dead Sea. It's called the Dead Sea because water comes in. But the water never leaves. As a result, nothing can live there. And you may remember that you can actually float there's so much salt in this Dead Sea.

What does this have to do with your to-do lists? If you keep adding and adding and adding and adding and nothing ever gets crossed off, you have what's known as a Dead Sea to-do list. So use a to-do list but make sure you're adding and subtracting to it. That's the whole point. Remember what I just said about keeping everything in your head. You take the things out of your head, you put it on your to-do list, and I don't care if you use a bullet journal, if you use an app, I don't care. Put it on the list but then do something with this. Okay.

And the third mistake people make when it comes to a to-do list is overcomplicating it.

Now, what do I mean by this? Have you ever seen someone who just can't have a to-do list? They've got to have emojis and subcategories or areas, depending on whatever terminology your app is using. Or they use a bullet journal and they have to have this list color-coded with this font over here. They overcomplicate it, and I believe that complexity is the gateway to procrastination.

Mister Productivity, as I refer to myself in the third person, doesn't like procrastination. I don't like complication. I like keeping things simple. So what I want you to do is don't overcomplicate it, don't complicate it period. If you want to have several lists, which I think you do, like I've got a general catch-all to-do list, I've got a list for my business reminders. And I've got a couple of other ones like bills I have to pay and stuff like that, that's fine. But don't get stressed out over the color of the list, or what you're going to call the list, or about emojis.

I have a client of mine who has actually taken this to the nth degree and they actually have created like dividers on their list, and it's just, is it serving you? It looks nice. And as you're creating these lists, as you're overcomplicating and you're like, "golly, gee, this time, this time, I'm really going to follow through". You're not, okay? The complicating is not going to make you more productive.

So the three mistakes most people make when it comes to their to-do list.

Number one, they don't even use one, everything stays in their head. Very dangerous, very stressful on your brain.

Number two, the Dead Sea scenario. You just keep adding and adding and adding. I wonder how many people are hearing these words right now that have added more to their to-do list than they have taken off? Hmm, am I talking to you?

And number three, overcomplication? I know you like your colors. I know you like your emojis. But is that a form of procrastination? Is that, "you know, what? If I really make this to-do list really pretty, and I use really unique colors, and I use emojis, is that really going to help you get the stuff on your list done?" I would argue no.

So those are three mistakes I see people make all the time when it comes to their to-do lists. Don't make these mistakes anymore. Now, if you're making them, you're not a bad person, just start correcting yourself the next time you get caught in one of these three mistakes. Make sense?

Now, I gotta tell you about something I'm very excited about: my Facebook Group.

I have been off of Facebook for three years I think. But a very wise person, known as my coach, you should have a coach, coaches are awesome, told me that the people that need to hear my message are on Facebook. So I returned to Facebook. If you would like to learn how to free yourself from overwhelm, like maybe a to-do list that is complicated, or a dead sea or is not existing, I want you to go join my Facebook Group.

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