‘To-do’ or not ‘To-do’

Abhishek Rathan Athreya
3 min readDec 11, 2017

In this day and age where terms like Productivity, Motivation and Self-Improvement are the latest fad, I’m sure you listen to (or read about) the importance of To-do lists at least 2315 times a day. Lucky for you, I’m not here to talk about the importance of it. I’m here to talk about my experience with it.

My tryst with to-do lists started during my years of IIT-JEE (an intense exam that everyone in India fixates on) coaching. I used to write down the topics that I needed to finish and scratch them off as and when I finished studying them. This whole exercise made me feel organized and gave me an extra sense of accomplishment on completing the task.

When I moved to Pilani (a desert town which has a world renowned engineering college) to pursue my engineering, the relationship with to-do lists became complicated! The challenging course work, the frivolous freedom and the captivating computer games began to take hold of my schedule, simultaneously. The varying priority of these tasks didn’t require a proper schedule. I didn’t need a to-do list approach, it was mostly about making instantaneous choices.

Just when I thought that to-do lists were out of my life, I caught myself walking towards them. I was newly introduced to the idea of visualizing and setting goals and had just started acknowledging my priorities. Due to these priorities, there was a dire need for a system to keep track and manage the things that needed to be done. Thus, the to-do list entered my life once again!

My learnings

The coming and going of to-do lists in my life taught me —

  • To-do lists are extremely useful to me when I have a fixed priority. Ex — When I had the fixed priority of studying for IIT-JEE, I could add items to my to-do list that I’d actually care to do!
  • To-do lists give me an extra sense of accomplishment when I strike them off.
  • To-do lists are impractical for me during times of extremely uncertain priorities. Ex — If my priority can change instantaneously between studying and playing computer games, having a to-do item, ‘Study for two hours’ is impractical. I don’t feel the need of tracking items that I don’t prioritize!

So what?

You’ve come this far! Here are few things that you’d probably want to keep in mind —

  • To-do lists are extremely useful tools when you have your priorities straight. Use it to keep track of your goals and make sure you gain an extra sense of accomplishment by striking off the said to-do item.
  • If you don’t have clear priorities, to-do lists may not be useful to you. Instead of wasting your time on building to-do lists that might not work, take some time to set up your priorities!

Thanks for reading! Let me scratch of the to-do item for writing a Medium post. If you like this post, clap to your heart’s content. If you don’t, feel free to respond with comments/suggestions. Follow me —

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Abhishek Rathan Athreya

Self-Improvement blogger. Motivational speaker. Technology Enthusiast.