To Do or Not to Do: Digital vs. Paper To-Do Lists

The idea of a to-do list is pretty straightforward. You make a list of everything you need to do so that you don’t forget anything. It’s also fairly straightforward to create. You just write down your tasks on a piece of paper and cross them off as you complete them.

Everyone from the young office junior to the CEO has used to-do lists in one form or another. There are even people that have them at home as well as work so they can keep their social life in order. But since we now work in so many different ways with so many different apps, we have seen the to-do list take on tons of new forms and shapes.

There are a lot of apps available across different operating systems and web browsers that will help you track your tasks. We’ve used apps like TeuxDeux, Remember the Milk and Cheddar. The benefit of apps like these is that they compartmentalize different areas of your day or your work. You can have one central list as well as others that feed into it. You can also schedule regular reminders for actions if you have reoccurring tasks each week.

The other big benefit of these apps is that you can synchronize them across different platforms. This means that if you have a brainwave while eating breakfast, you can drop a note straight into your to-do list and have it ready and waiting for you when you turn your computer on.

The downside to apps like these, though, can be their tendency to overcomplicate task tracking. Just keeping your to-do list up to date can feel like its own task.

If you’re not keen on using apps and you like the old-school approach, then the trusty pad and pen is the winner. There really is no way that you can overcomplicate anything with this method. All of your actions are right there in front of you. You can add things onto the list as they come in and scratch them out as soon as you’re done. You can also format it in your own style and make sure that everything is laid out in the way you will be able to understand best.

The big downside to this method is you must remember to take it everywhere with you, and your world is prone to collapsing if you lose it or if the cleaner throws it out.

Of course, there are other systems that you can use. A good idea is to try and combine the two. Using systems like Evernote can help you jot down notes when you’re out and about. The cleaners can do their job properly without accidentally throwing away the to-do list you left inside your old magazine.

Do you put your trust into to-do apps? Or do you still like the tried-and-tested method of writing things down?

Photo credit: tinymind