For a long time, I resisted to-do lists. I wanted the flexibility. I felt that if I kept a list, it would tie me down to a particular set of tasks. Gradually, though, I came around. The busier my work life became, the more crucial it was to have some sort of running agenda on hand. Before long, I even started adding some of those items onto my weekly calendar. In other words, I’d reluctantly become a planner.
Looking back, it shouldn’t have been so difficult. In fact, there are at least three psychological benefits to the simple act of drawing up a list of top-priority tasks—whether or not you actually accomplish them.
Writing Makes Your Memory’s Job Easier
Keeping a list of tasks you need to perform is like taking notes when you’re reading a book or listening to a lecture. When you take notes, you need to filter external information, summarize it in your head, and then write it down. Many studies have shown that note taking helps us distill the information we hear and remember it better than we would if we’d just heard or read it.