I love a To Do List as much as anyone. Lists in general are one of my favorite things. Sometimes I’ll just make a list for fun, and sometimes I’ll do a cathartic brainstorm of all the things on my mind. Lists don’t always need to be functional, but a To Do List by nature should be a tool help us get things done.
A goal without a plan is just a wish.Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Sure, sure, that quote is talking about goals, but isn’t a To Do List basically just a list of short-term goals. That’s where a planner comes in. A planner is basically just a To Do List planned out.
I’m a visual person, so I thought I’d try to show you what I mean. Here’s a sample To Do List:
I made up this “Based on a True Story” To Do List (I pulled it from the last couple of weeks of actual things in my planner, excluding some tasks and adding a few others.) This To Do list represents a brain dump. Taking a minute to just dump ALL THE THINGS swirling around in your brain and putting it on paper. This will always be the most vital benefit of a To Do List – just getting it all down in one place quickly.
Where the To Do List fails is how overwhelming it can be to look at. It’s just a bunch of stuff you need to do. When should you do it? What’s first? How do we order everything else? Is it even possible to get to all this stuff? What if I miss something urgent or miss a deadline?
That’s when a planner really shines.
Using a planner properly is just taking your To Do List and spreading it out and assigning days to each task. That’s how I use my planner and it helps so much!
Every Sunday, I sit down with my planner and think through the week ahead. I use the calendar on my phone to fill out the schedule for the week, which helps me really understand what to expect each week.
- When we schedule stuff out on our planner we can see our To Do List next to our schedule, so we can see what days are the craziest and make a realistic plan. When we plan more than we can reasonably accomplish, we can flip the page of the planner and put some non-urgent items on next week.
- When I schedule something for a few days later that requires thought, I have the chance to mentally prepare for that item. I can be thinking of it in my “off” moments of driving or dishes.
- If a certain day is unavoidably tough, I will take that day and plan it out hour by hour on a Daily Planning page.
Anxiety flourishes when a million things are swirling in my brain and I feel overwhelmed. Peace flourishes when I have a plan, and know where to start and what to focus on. Each day, instead of looking at a really long To Do List, I can look at JUST TODAY. Planning ahead, but taking things one day at a time!
Whether you use my planner or any planner, planners are better than To Do Lists. That’s a fact.