You're probably surprised by the title of this blog post. For someone who talks a lot about to-do lists and how to manage them, it must seem absurd that I don't use a dedicated app for my own tasks.
It's not that I haven't tried many apps in the past. I've used a healthy dose of task managers over the years. In fact, I've even stayed with some for a few years.
But a while back I decided to turn my back on to-do list apps all together. These are the 3 reasons why:
1. One More App to Manage
Most of us are looking for ways to simplify our lives. Not make them more complicated. So adding one more app for you to look at tends to make our load heaver, not lighter.
Think about the top 5 apps you use the most right now. If you were to add a to-do list app to that collection, you would be adding yet one more to your 'most-used' list. I mean it wouldn't be a useful task manager if it didn't instantly become one of your most used apps.
So to simplify things, I've found a much easier way to manage my tasks within an app that I'm already using all the time.
2. Events and Tasks are Out-of-Sync
Most to-do list apps do not integrate with your calendar. And the ones that do often do so poorly.
If you can't see your tasks and events at the same time, don't be surprised if you're adding too many tasks to a particular day. Or worse yet, that your actual commitments are not in line with the tasks you've set out to do.
Of course all to-do list apps have due dates which will give you some kind of calendar view within the app. But if you can't see what you're doing on that day (like events or meetings), you might as well be randomizing where your tasks land in the future.
3. Deferring Tasks Becomes Too Easy
I've yet to meet anyone who uses a to-do list app that is not constantly deferring tasks into the future. It's not that I don’t defer my own tasks from time to time. But to-do list apps make the ability to defer much too easy. So we often get into the habit of doing it too frequently.
If it takes a bit of effort to defer a task, you may put a little more thought into how you compose your tasks and where to place them. Sometimes a little extra effort can go a long way to making tasks stick. By being a little more honest with ourselves, we can defer our tasks to an appropriate date (and not just one with 20 other tasks already there).
Now I'm not saying that you or anyone else should stop using a to-do list app. If you currently use one and it seems to be working for you, then by all means continue.
But if it feels like a chore to open up your to-do list app, then perhaps you need a better productivity tool. If you’re sick of managing one more app, without seeing your events, and deferring things constantly, it may not be the best solution.
Oh, and I’m sure you’re wondering what I do use as my task list. It’s something that we all have and use on a regular basis: a calendar.
Question: What's your thoughts on to-do list apps and task managers? Leave your answer in the comments below.
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