To Do Lists Vs Checklists: @arimeisel’s article and my thoughts

I’ve been reading Ari Meisel interesting musings on To Do Lists and Checklists, and I couldn’t help but wonder why people like to go the complicated route, instead of trying to simplify things?

There is this inherent obsessive compulsive need to “organize everything” to have “clarity” about things we do, while in truth all these things are just another layer of procrastination

While there are benefits of recording the processes, I believe that we’re documenting too many of them. There are only 2–3 things that we are doing daily, day in, day out, that need a documented process. Everything above that is not justifying the investment up front.

The premise of the article

When we’re working on bigger projects we need to chuck them into smaller pieces. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this concept itself, people get stuck in the planning phase, instead of just jumping in. You can document the process once you set the habit, but not sooner than that.

We’re wasting a lot of time and energy to document everything, while in reality, how much are you using your documentation? I know that by my notes. I am religiously keeping everything in my notes, but I rarely check them.

It’s the same with task managers, they are not designed for everybody. There are people who inherently work on their plans straight from the paper or task manager, but what if you’re not a part of that group?

Difference between Checklists and To-Do Lists

There is a neat distinction between a to-do list and checklist. Checklists are a documented process, for something that you do daily, and do to list is something you assembled yourself and you need to do at certain point of your day. And while I strive for not making things harder then they already are, I will add things only when necessary.

Therefore, if you have a daily process of tasks that require repetition, checklists can be a lifesaver.

For people who aren’t fluent in “running a system”

Don’t despair if you can’t follow up massive demands from crude systems like GTD and similar systems. There is a better way to approach your life, that doesn’t involve that much occupation with your own tasks. Let’s simplify, shall we?


  1. Chris G says

    There is another great reason why using a to-do app like Azendoo : share with other people easily and get everyone aligned on the same objectives.

  2. says

    Breaking the project into smaller, manageable tasks is a great idea. Just like the old adage : how do you eat an elephant?- one bite at a time

    Great post.