Why You'll Never Finish Your To-Do List

The Huffington Post ran an article earlier this year revealing that 41% of the tasks we put on our to-do list are never completed. Disheartening? Yes. True? Also yes...

I keep my to-do lists in a variety of places - in my Productivity Planner at work, in the Notes app on my phone, in Trello, and wherever else takes my fancy that week.

But I find I never look at a list that’s completely crossed off and that can be a little depressing or overwhelming.

So why do we never complete our to-do list and, more importantly, why should we stop focusing on completing it?

You’ve set too many tasks

To-do lists can set us up to fail for a couple of reasons:

  1. We lump everything together in the one list and don’t distinguish the size of each task or how long it will take to complete it. For example, a 15-minute trip to the chemist could be lumped in with starting a website for your new venture - obviously a much larger and more time-consuming task.
  2. You expect you’ll race through your list, when we can really only do so many tasks in a day.

Try and allocate time against each task and return to my productivity planner method - pick only certain tasks you can get done that day (including your one, yes one, most important task) and get those completed.

Your focus is off

As driven women it’s easy to get caught up in the race to perfection. We strive to complete every work task, home task, wellness task, and on and on, only to collapse into bed at night with a lack of satisfaction.

To-do lists are a useful tool but focusing on a laundry list of sometimes arbitrary tasks won’t necessarily fill your life with fun and spontaneity.

Yes, use a to-do list but don’t let it run your life to the detriment of relaxation and fun.

You don’t edit the list

Instead of our to-do list getting shorter, we often lump more and more tasks onto it.

I am particularly guilty of this on my personal to-do list in my phone. I have all sorts of to-dos on there - makeup I want to try (thanks vloggers), films I want to see, dentist appointments I’m avoiding booking...

But some of those items have been on there for over a year - if I haven’t gotten to them yet, it’s time to edit it down. Say no to items that you’re not doing and cull that list!  

You forgot to eat frogs

This step ties into the others, but another reason we don’t get through our list is because we’re avoiding tasks we think will be too difficult or unpleasant to complete (hello dentist).

If you opened your to-do list every day and your most important task was also your least favourite task, imagine how good it would feel to wipe it off that day.

You can read my post about eating frogs here, and if you complete your most dreaded task today, I promise to book the dentist. Deal?

What did you wipe off your to-do list today? Did you also make time for fun? Let me know in the comments below!