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Maintaining your to-do lists for a productive life

Ahmed from The Flexible Schedule
Ahmed from The Flexible Schedule
Adding tasks to your to-do list is half the job, maintaining it is the other half. So, let’s see how we can do it together.

Let me tell you a story that you may relate to it (I’m sure you will).
It’s a Monday morning and you have a new resolution: Using a to-do app. You download the best-rated app currently, create projects for each area of your life, add our lists of tasks, reminders, and everything… You are heavily invested and committed to making it work this time! It’s a resolution after all, right? But a few days after that, chances are you had already forgotten about your lists.
Sounds familiar? Well, I’ve been there too, and I’ve done this before. Multiple times actually.
This might sound simple in theory, but it’s hard in practice: Anything we introduce in our life comes with a maintenance cost. And our to-do lists are no different, they need maintenance too.
But before talking about to-do lists, it’s worth explaining why we use to-do lists in the first place. Personally, I love how David Allen, the creator of the GTD (Get Things Done) method presents it: your brain isn’t a hard drive.
Our brains aren’t designed to remember things, they’re here to think about solutions to problems. This is why we use to-do lists and productivity apps. They help us remember things when our brains fail us. But our brains have something built into them that to-do lists don’t: forgetting things.
If you write something on your to-do list, it will stay there until you remove it. That’s why adding things to your to-do list is one thing, keeping it clean and useful is another. In other words, adding tasks is half the job, cleaning it is the other.
So, how can we maintain our to-do list, in order to keep it up-to-date and useful? The answer can be summed up in one sentence: you need to keep an eye on it.
If it’s a physical list, on paper, it needs to be in a place where you can keep an eye on it. On the top of your desk, or as a post-it, or something equivalent.
If it’s an app, you need to cultivate a habit of checking it often. Luckily, all to-do apps have built-in daily reminders you can schedule to get a small nudge every now and then. All it takes is a few days for it to become a habit.
For me, I check my to-do app when I’m ready to start my day. And then, once a week to clean it. I hope this inspires you to do something equivalent :)
PS: How are you finding this newsletter? Any feedback you want to share with me? I’ll be happy to hear your thoughts.
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Ahmed from The Flexible Schedule
Ahmed from The Flexible Schedule @elazzabi_

The Flexible Schedule is a newsletter about productivity and lifestyle in the new world of remote working, freelancing, and flexible working.

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