Is a Healthy To Do List Possible?

to do list

Writing things down will not necessarily mean that you will get them done. However, quickly written down into your planner have a GREATER chance of getting done. Checking things off your list has health benefits as well. Here are a few advantages to keeping a To Do List.

  1. Document the things that must be done so they are not forgotten. Your memory may not be reliable.
  2. Clear your mind for other things. When you try to mentally keep track of things that have to be done it’s harder to concentrate on the task at hand.
  3. Relieve anxiety. If you have that nagging fear that you may forget to do something. Therefore, writing it down will relieve you of the anxiety.
  4. Force yourself to plan ahead. In other words, the process of thinking about what has to be done keeps you proactive.
  5. Budget your time. Seeing everything that has to be done allows you to prioritize and allocate the most time to the more important tasks. Not having a To Do list leaves you vulnerable to spending too much time on trivial items.

Writing things down will not necessarily mean that you will get them done. Click To Tweet

In other words, make your to-do list work for you. Practice, practice, practice!

I love this post from my friend Linda Samuels of Oh So Organized, Are You Making Time For ‘The Good Stuff’?



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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Seana Turner on February 8, 2021 at 8:58 am

    I feel like I live with my planner attached to my hand! I so agree with all of these. If I don’t write something down shortly after I have the thought, I am very likely to forget the thought. In contrast, when I capture the idea, then I do feel that release of anxiety about it. I know I won’t forget. Having a system I use and trust definitely makes me feel calmer and more in control. As you say, if I don’t get to it today, I can reschedule it for another day!

    • Janet Schiesl on February 8, 2021 at 11:46 am

      A trusted system is a must. I mostly use my task list in my CRM as my daily to-do-list. I can access it on my computer or phone, so it works where ever I am.

  2. Ronni Eisenberg on February 8, 2021 at 9:15 am


    Your video is terrific and it’s very relatable.
    I liked what you said about checking things off your list has health benefits as well. There’s such a feeling of accomplishment and it does reduce that nagging anxiety of got to get it done.
    I work on my list the night before and it’s ready to go in the morning. If I don’t accomplish all the to-dos in a day, at least I know I’ve gotten the most important ones done.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 8, 2021 at 11:43 am

      I like to focus on my 3 Most Important Things each morning. Then I know what I REALLY have to do that day.

  3. Sabrina Quairoli on February 8, 2021 at 10:47 am

    I also like to write down things that I did already. If they are not written down, it is possible that I forget and beat myself up mentally because I am running late on other things. Writing things I did down allows me to look back on the day and truly see how much I accomplished.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 8, 2021 at 11:42 am

      I also like the idea of reviewing you list to see what you’ve accomplished that day.

  4. Linda Samuels on February 8, 2021 at 10:55 am

    You make such great points about the value of keeping a to-list, such as not relying on memory, reducing anxiety, increasing focus, and capturing tasks to plan. Feeling confident that your lists will guide you makes a huge difference. I work on my list throughout the day- checking it, using it to cue me for next, and reprioritizing based on “surprises” that arise. One other thing (a health benefit) that I love about the list. When you cross something off, you get a little ping, an endorphin rush that makes you feel good. On the harder days, I sometimes add a few easy tasks to get that crossing-it-off benefit. 🙂

    Thank you for the lovely shout out and link to the “Good Stuff” post. What an unexpected and nice surprise.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 8, 2021 at 11:41 am

      I agree. Making lists has so many benefits. That’s why I encourage people to give it a try.

  5. Kristin Zucaro on February 8, 2021 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for the tips Janet! I’ve found that moving my to-do list from paper to an electronic one on trello has kept me more organized, and therefore less anxious. I’ve even themed my days (i.e. Money Mondays, Podcast Tuesdays, Website Wednesdays, etc) so when a task pops up that isn’t urgent, I just drop it into the corresponding day list on my trello board and I can quickly capture it and then prioritize it, schedule it, and focus on it later.

  6. Janet Schiesl on February 8, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    I love themed days Kristin. I learned that idea a while back but never adopted it. Glad it works for you. Something about getting your tasks documented, whether on paper or electronic does lessen anxiety.

  7. Phaedra Studt on February 8, 2021 at 5:43 pm

    Your tips remind me a lot of the book Getting Things Done! I love it!

    I need to get more disciplined about creating lists, but I always come back to them once I realize I’m feeling frazzled. I jot everything down, then schedule the tasks in my calendar. This also helps me realistically plan for what I can accomplish in a day.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 9, 2021 at 7:34 am

      Phaedra, I agree. Making a list helps clarify what you have to do and what you don’t have to do!

  8. Julie Bestry on February 10, 2021 at 2:02 am

    This short post is more powerful than the vast majority of long posts I’ve seen. Why lists? To remember, to focus, to de-stress, to encourage planning, and to prioritize. You kicked productivity’s butt with these five points! Brava! I’m a lifelong list-maker, so I’m partial, but you’ve made it so easy to help people understand all the great benefits of lists. (And the video, as always, is super!)

  9. Janet Schiesl on February 10, 2021 at 9:52 am

    Thank you Julie. I love a list! Really any list.

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