Reminders and Lists Do Not Work

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Reminders don’t work. The same goes for making lists. Lists don’t work. I have lost count of the number of reminders that I have clicked away in Outlook or on my iPhone. Some great examples in the embedded image. These were super important, look at all of the exclamation marks. However, they are still not done. It is not their fault. I have got into a bad habit of misusing these tools.

as you can see reminders work well for me

I make lists and I also create reminders but I make so many that they end up being like mosquitoes buzzing around my head annoyingly. I want to crush them. I completely miss the point of them.

Reminders and lists are tools and like most tools unless you know how to use them then you are just going to make a mess of things, or worse just be really ineffective. They are great way of capturing things to do and then prioritising.

But, (I feel like this should be written BUT) it is pointless adding things to a  to-do list that:

  1. Are not a priority for you to do
  2. You are not able to do
  3. You are not willing to do

These things on your to-do list will not get done.


I wanted to pause and reflect on that last statement. I guess that this seems pretty obvious right? However, because I have been making to-do lists with things that fall into one or other of the above categories I cannot see the wood for the trees. So when the reminder pops up for things that do not fall into those categories (like the above examples) I swish it away in fog of “yeah I will get around to that someday”.

I used to be pretty good at lists. I had the whole GTD thing going on. I captured everything. Sorted out which stuff was actionable and for me to do. I mercilessly threw things away that were not things for me to do. I regularly cleared my “tickle files” (are they still called that?) and reviewed stuff that was just not getting done. I don’t do that any more.

I don’t do that any more because I have formed bad habits and the first step of me getting out of my procrastination rut is to accept that I have bad habits and then create new habits. That sounds easy right? I’m sure it is.

I wanted to write that I don’t think that I am quite there yet. Well I did write that. That is my procrastination talking. So, step one of getting my shit together is capture all stuff (“things” if you like) and sort through for actionable stuff. Non-actionable stuff goes in the bin! This should be my new mantra.

If I can clear my of the non-actionable stuff then there will be space for all of the things that I have been wanting to get around to.

I just popped to search “getting over procrastination” the top link was https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_96.htm. Which seems to agree with the most of this post. So I feel a bit vindicated that I not talking complete garbage. Do with that what you will.


Also published on Medium.