The Inescapable Demands of ToDo Lists

I have noticed a wide and growing number of apps on the new iPhone, Android and laptop  that attempt to improve a user’s personal productivity.  They all seem to focus on the same thing:  how to make better lists.

It’s a bit disheartening, because our research here at 2Time Labs shows that lists work fine for a small number of time demands, but after a certain point an upgrade is needed to using a single schedule instead.  While many people repeat the mythology that “it can’t be done” based on a someone’s opinion, there are many professionals who pull off this trick, and many others who are curious to see if it would make a difference for them.

Some of the data comes from new high quality research conducted by Dr. Dezhi Wu.  A great deal of the proof, however, remains to be established and while I’m hoping that another Dezhi comes along soon, here’s a comparison at the steps that take place in both fundamentals:  Scheduling and Listing.

Imagine a conversation between you and your boss in which a new time demand has popped up. Your boss wants to know whether or not you are able to complete a new assignment – “The Smith Report” – due in two week’s time.

With a single schedule: You pause for a moment to check your schedule to see whether or not you have the space to allocate the 10 hours that are required.

With multiple lists: You pause for a moment to scan your personal memory, because a list of all the to-do’s that you need to do doesn’t tell you if you have the time to complete the report by the due date.

This happens over and over again when you use multiple lists – you must use your memory to try to remember what you planned, and for when. This is not a problem when the number of demands on your time is small, but if you have a great number of commitments, the chore of remembering a mental schedule quickly becomes burdensome.

Imagine, that if have multiple lists, that you can easily make the mistake of telling your boss “Yes,” only to discover that you have other deliverables that you placed on your mental schedule, but simply forgot for the moment. That might be an indication that it’s time for an upgrade.

The problem is that ToDo Lists force you to use memory – this is an inescapable demand of this particular technique.