The to-do list was coined in the 1970s, adding to what has long been civilisation's standard time planning tool — the calendar. Nothing about to-do lists was new at the time, but the need for it to be a thing in people's lives shows changes that are still accelerating. Our collective agreement to maximise productivity, be it in your own life or the work of those you oversee, requires new values and tools. Thus, every duty and responsibility can be captured and formalised.
As productivity gurus have recently voiced their dismay with to-do lists, instead recommending one block out every hour of the day on a calendar, let me merely suggest you try out what systems are available, and choose those that best help you do what you want to do.
Let me just dismiss talks of productivity and instead focus on doing what is needed to have a simple life. Although I use many of the same systems as those I am criticising; I put much more thought into what I do not want to do.
Why not make a Not-To-Do list?1 Can you get rid of any activities that make you miserable? A lot of misery may come from the people around, and still: Aligning life with your values and leading by example changes those, too. Then add stupid things you do and don't forget to add the most important item: business. You don't even have to tick them all off; just be aware.
Let's defeat the rule of busy with its own weapon!
A term marvellously coined by the titular character in Marc-Uwe Kling's Kangaroo Chronicles. ↩︎