Why we think setting appointments, not making to do lists, will help you get things done

October 12, 2017 by pgroessel


Some to-do list items just make you want to curl up in a warm procrastination blanket.

How do you get out from under it? One simple approach is to turn your task, project or to-do list item into a appointment. Treat that line item like it’s a person you don’t want to let down.

You feel more beholden to other people than you do to things, to vague ideas, to long-term goals or to mundane stuff that is no fun but needs to get done. Setting appointments throughout your day, rather than setting a to-do list, makes you feel accountable.

Face it — you don’t want to be late for or miss an appointment you need to go to, even if you don’t want to. Apply that to the stuff that needs to get done. Even if you do not feel prepared to take on a to-do list item, setting an appointment for it makes you show up to take it on anyway.

Everyone has gotten through a meeting that she was just not ready for. It happens. Guess what? You had to attend anyway. And, as you mentally and physically squirm in your chair, you most likely made it out alive. You learned something from it, specifically, some background or way to move forward. Most of the time, at worst, you realized how much you didn’t know about the thing everyone else seemed to know a lot about in that meeting. Based on the butt-kicking you got, you came away with the starting point for where to catch up.

The difference between setting an appointment with Daunting/Vague To Do List Item and an appointment with Seemingly More Prepared People: You’re the only actual person in the meeting, so even if your meeting is a struggle to understand what the heck is going on, you won’t feel like a fraud who is going to get caught at any moment for not being prepared. And, you’ll probably come out of that meeting with an idea of where to go next and who to go to for help.

And, this meeting between you and your project actually helps you prepare for THE ACTUAL MEETING so that unprepared scenario won’t occur in the first place.

If you’d like to see an Internet-friendly list of reasons why creating appointments instead of to-do lists could help you, our friends in Minneapolis have done just that.