I Guess We Need to KonMari Our To-Do Lists Now

…This sounds awfully familiar.

Photo: Chris Lott/Flickr

As a passionate and vocal advocate of a list for every occasion, I will gladly click on anything that purports to up my list game and streamline the piles of paper and envelopes and scraps that contain the lists that allow me to manage the things I have to remember, even if the things I have to remember aren’t that much at all.

Always Make A List

I love a list. I will make lists that consolidate my other lists into one master list, with subheds and lesser bullets and an appendix. Making the list usually scratches the itch of feeling productive — sometimes it’s not about getting the task done, but about going through the motions, because as you do, you realize that the things you had on the list aren’t that important after all.

This is an effective method for winnowing, but the Science of Us presents another option that’s less labor-intensive and potentially sets you up for success: Just do one thing every day and the rest of it can wait.

Why You Should Try Decluttering Your To-Do List

If you take your list and pare it down to just one thing — not necessarily something that you don’t want to do, but something that you need to do and is more important than everything else — the thinking is that you’ll just do it and feel accomplished. There’s usually one big thing on a list surrounded by a bunch of piddly, smaller, things. You have to pick up the laundry because you don’t have any underpants, but you also need to “research stock market???” and “find other glasses!!!” and “call [indicpherable scribble].” If you knock out the one thing that’s the most important, you can feel accomplished enough to rest easy til the next day, where you will do the same thing again, ad infinitum. You can find the glasses after you’ve picked up your laundry and that activity might be much more enjoyable

Declutter your to-do list if you think it’ll make it easier for you to actually do anything on that list, but prioritizing just one thing doesn’t necessarily make the other things you still kind of have to do disappear completely. Tackle your to-do list however you want: do all the things before noon on a Monday or tear the list into tiny pieces and flush it down the toilet. KonMari it, if you want. But do all the other things, too.

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