Sunday, 20 January 2008

Do you tick off your to do list?

Microsoft / Kelton Research report that most people are 'in love with to-do lists'.

69% of UK and 76% of US citizens currently keep at least one to do list; some manage up to three or more lists concurrently. These lists are seen to be a stress management tool, having a calming effect on people, simply because everything is written down in front of them.

However, to-do list tasks often languish on lists for weeks before getting crossed off. Although US participants said they check off 69% of the tasks on their to-do lists in a week, procrastination is alive and well. On average, the longest an item has stayed on their to-do lists is nearly a month (22 days in the US, and with the longest delay in the UK with 26 days).

Is that all? I keep two lists - one for work related areas (currently just 12 pages - 3 of them noting ideas for future blog posts), and one for home (4 pages). And given their length, you may not be surprised to learn that some of these to do's have probably been on these lists for well over a year. So what? It works for me.

I picked up the habit after reading David Allen's Getting Things Done. Most people I've worked with for any length of time in recent years would be surprised to see me without pad, pen and to do list, ensuring that I always have my full list of commitments and requirements on hand, and can capture new actions as they come up. It's almost become part of my personal brand - and is why I had my website designed as it is.

I have tried technological approaches to this, but haven't found a system that works for me as effectively as paper does. However, although I only reprint the list every couple of weeks or so, for the sake of the environment, I am committed to having another go - probably when I get round to getting myself an iphone (rather than Windows Mobile) later on this year.