Robots & To-Do Lists


Have you jumped on the ChatGPT trend?

Tiffany here today and I have to say, it’s a pretty ridiculous tool, although you have to know how to ask it questions in order to get a good answer. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an artificial intelligence based tool that reacts in a conversational way to queries. You can ask it “What makes a good clarinet reed” and it will spit back a few answers. And, they aren’t terrible. 

Like anything new, some people think it’s the best thing ever invented and other people say it will ruin our lives and rot our brains. However, I had something on my list to talk to you about today and I thought… AH HA! Let me ask ChatGPT what they have to say about this. 

The topic? 

To-do lists. 

I don’t know about you, but I have a freaking long to do list. Everyone I know has an ever-expanding list. And, I wanted to share a few things that have been helping me get through mine, or, put mine in perspective. But first. Let’s hear from ChatGPT. 

I asked: “How do you create a to-do list and actually finish it?” 

It responded: 

There are a few key strategies that can help you create a to-do list and actually finish it:

  1. Break tasks down into smaller, manageable chunks: Large tasks can be overwhelming and hard to start. Breaking them down into smaller parts can make them more manageable and easier to complete.
  2. Prioritize tasks: Identify which tasks are most important and tackle them first. This will help you stay focused and motivated to complete your to-do list.
  3. Use a calendar or planner: Scheduling tasks on a calendar or planner can help you stay organized and on track.
  4. Set deadlines: Giving yourself a deadline for completing tasks can help you stay motivated and focused.
  5. Eliminate distractions: Minimize distractions by finding a quiet place to work, turning off your phone, or using a website blocker.

Thanks, ChatGPT! I agree with some of these.

But I have to say - one MASSIVE thing is missing here:

Actually scheduling when you’re going to do the things on the list. 

It is shocking to me how many times I fail to remember this very important point. 

So, I am going to give you 5 of my tips that are currently helping me approach my to-list with a little more intention these days. 

  1. Write out as many things as I can think of. 
    1. The mind-dump part of this is pretty crucial for me. And, I think for the average person that’s true. Getting things out of your head onto paper (or … a document of any sort) is crucial. 
  2. If it takes less than 5 minutes and I have a little buffer in the moment, JUST DO IT. 
    1. I mean… how many times am I going to write “take our recycling” on my list? For heavens sake! These small tasks are to-do list crowders and we don’t need them in our lives! 
  3. Before I go to sleep and throughout the day, I actually schedule things on my to-list. 
    1. From 6-630am I am doing X. From 6:30-7 I am doing Y. This may seem neurotic. It may be! But the reason it is helping me is because I can spend forever on a task. Certain tasks like… writing this email… could take me days if I let it! But, I don’t have that much time. And we all know, tasks tend to fill the space they’re given. So, by really setting a boundary, it is helping me beat perfectionism and at least take the first big stride to completing said task. As the day goes on, of course things change and I have to adjust. If I find myself getting overwhelmed around 4pm, I reassess and again write down - from 4-4:30 I am doing X. It’s VERY easy to sit for hours in overwhelm but if you just make the decision to do something, you’ll probably feel better. 
  4. Don’t need to do’s 
    1. Okay, ChatGPT said “prioritize tasks”. Fair. But I’m not talking about seeing which are most important. I am talking about giving certain tasks a category of DO NOT NEED TO DO RIGHT NOW! That could mean you don’t do them today. Or this week. Or this month. But the point is, you don’t need to do them today and room is made for the things that are a priority. 
  5. Be nimble 
    1. My plan rarely goes perfectly to plan. On a good day, I’d say I stick to the schedule 70%. On an okay day, 50%. I can’t determine what calls I get, what emails come into the inbox, when I’m feeling low energy, or when it rains and it takes 45 more min to get to the store than I would like. But, the point isn’t to execute the plan perfectly. The point is to START with a plan. And then be nimble. And I guess it also is worth it to say, you have to be persistent! 

A while back I taught a class about making fussy, not fuzzy, plans.

I really do believe that the limitations set us free in many ways. Facing an endless to do list and a non-structured amount of time is a recipe for overwhelm and guilt if you ask me! 

So ChatGPT had some good advice that may help you - sure, break things into smaller chunks and definitely use a calendar or a planner. 

But, maybe the most helpful answer is an obvious one… unless you’ve got a secret robot coming to save you, schedule specific times to do the things on your list!

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