On The Importance of Personal To-Do Lists and How to Stay Accountable

On The Importance of Personal To-Do Lists and How to Stay Accountable

Taryn Williford
Jul 30, 2015
(Image credit: Taryn Williford)

Everyone has their own way to keep up. For me, a simple pen-and-paper list is the most effective way to stay on track with tasks at work. Some other folks I know swear by apps. But whatever the medium for their professional to-do list, it seems like people rarely give the same weight to personal tasks at home. I'm not talking about the stuff you have to do (make bed, empty dishwasher), but the stuff you love to do.

A bucket list is one common example of a "personal" to-do list, where we're more likely to see something spiritually fulfilling like "visit Thailand" than a must-do like "finally re-tile the roof." But why don't more of us document the little things? The small tasks we'd like to get done sometime, just for fun?

I'm calling for a movement. Right now, start a personal to-do list. It'll be like a bucket list, but with much smaller, more easily achievable things you can check off this week or this month. Here are a few ideas:

  • Read one new book.
  • Create a piece of art.
  • Meditate for 10 minutes every day.
  • Learn to knit.
  • Try Kombucha.
  • Take a cooking class.
  • Discover a new restaurant.
  • Go to the movies by yourself.
  • Call an old friend.
  • Send 5 emails just to say "hi."

You probably already thought of a few things that you've been wanting to do for a while now, and just never found the time. By making a list of your small, individual, non-professional goals, you're making personal fulfillment a priority in your life. And just like at work, keeping a to-do list is a great way to stay accountable.

(Image credit: 1Button/Task)

Here's the thing: You actually need to get it down on paper. Or in an app. Or wherever you like to keep lists.

  • If you're a traditionalist... use good old pen & paper.
  • If you want to share or collaborate on to-dos... try Wunderlist or Todoist.
  • If you're competitive... use Habit RPG.
  • If you usually need a push... use CARROT.
  • If your to-dos are repetitive or time sensitive... schedule them as events in your regular calendar.
  • If you want something really elegant... use Task.
  • If you want something elegant and packed with features... use Any.do.
  • If you like everything to sync natively with your Apple gear... try Pocket Lists.

The main thing is to treat your personal task list the same way you would a professional one. Check things off as you finish them. Share your goals on social media. Because we shouldn't lose track of the fun things in life, either.

Do you keep a personal to-do list? How about a big bucket list? Any more recommendations for tools or apps to stay accountable?

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