advertisement
Home » Blog » An Alternative to To-Do Lists for Getting Tasks Done

An Alternative to To-Do Lists for Getting Tasks Done

An Alternative to To-Do Lists for Getting Tasks DoneMost of us use some kind of to-do list, whether it’s tasks scribbled on a sticky note (like me), projects typed into a computer or an app on your phone, or a snapshot of your day written into a planner.

Author Sam Bennett finds to-do lists to be “too dictatorial.” It makes her feel like a high schooler who’s being told to do her homework.

Instead, she prefers creating a could-do list.

These very words, “could do,” remind her that she has a choice about the tasks she works on.

She talks about this in her newest book, Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes A Day, which offers insights, tips and techniques for accomplishing your creative goals.

“I could do the laundry, or I could walk around in dirty, smelly clothes. I have a choice. Even if the task is something I know I must do, I feel more relaxed if I remember that I have the option to not do it,” writes Bennett, also an actor and teacher who specializes in creativity, productivity and personal branding.

She also recommends a kind of worksheet to accompany your could-do list. She uses this worksheet any time her list of tasks gets too long or unwieldy.

Specifically, it takes into account several important things: time, finances, your potential return on investment, and whether you want to do the task in the first place.

To create the worksheet Bennett suggests separating your page into these columns:

  1. Task. Simply list the task or project.
  2. Time. Estimate how long the task will take.
  3. Expense. Estimate how much money the task will require (if any).
  4. Inclination. Consider — on a scale of 1 to 10 — how much you actually want to do the task.
  5. Return on investment. Determine — also on a scale of 1 to 10 — how much you might get back from completing the task.

For instance, Bennett included the task of mailing a magazine clipping she thought a client would be interested in. This task had been on her could-do list for weeks. When she went through the worksheet, she realized that sending the clipping would only take 2 minutes and cost 44 cents. And she really wanted to do it (she scored it a “10”), and she predicted a big return (this also got a “10”).

Bennett mailed out the clipping along with a brief note that day. Three days later her client called to request another 10 sessions.

“That little could-do item netted me more than a thousand dollars, but more than that, it helped me be the kind of person I want to be — the kind who sends thoughtful little notes to clients that I like.”

Bennett has used this technique for a broad range of tasks, including prioritizing her projects for the holidays.

Creating a could-do list (and considering factors like time and desire) gives you the opportunity to be intentional about your days. It helps you feel less shackled to shoulds — I should do that — and become more mindful of how you really want to live.

An Alternative to To-Do Lists for Getting Tasks Done


This article features affiliate links to Amazon.com, where a small commission is paid to Psych Central if a book is purchased. Thank you for your support of Psych Central!


Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.


3 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment
APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). An Alternative to To-Do Lists for Getting Tasks Done. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 11, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/an-alternative-to-to-do-lists-for-getting-tasks-done/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 19 Feb 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.