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To-do Lists vs. Habit Lists

I read Mark’s post about Two Task Lists over at Productivity501, and I wanted to add my thoughts.

As much as some people want to pile all their tasks in one single list (including me sometimes), I have found that this just isn’t the best way to go about it. We all have daily or weekly recurring “habit” type tasks, which are hard to classify on our todo list. Even though emailing [insert name here] might seem more urgent than exercising, exercising is a part of your life. These types of tasks simply don’t mix well in a single list, and can mix all your priorities up quickly.

After looking at the different types of tasks, I believe there are two effective catagories for tasks, “Todo” and “Habit”. Todo would be full of spontaneous tasks that arise, as well as yearly or monthly recurring tasks such as bill paying or income tax. This list is mostly limited to tasks that are not particularly enjoyable, but are things that need to get done.

The second list would be the Habit list, which would include mostly daily or weekly recurring tasks. Unlike the first list, items on your habit list are things that are either enjoyable, responsibilities, or things you want to do (like stretch in the moning, write blog post, exercise).


For me, putting something like exercise on my todo list puts me in a completely wrong mindset. Daily exercise isn’t a chore, or something I just want to get out of the way. I choose to do it, because I enjoy it, and I enjoy the benefits of it. I really think this ties in with my last post about writing too much stuff down. If you start putting enjoyable items like exercise or eat healthy on your todo list, what are you do when you finish your todo list? What if you put your entire life on a list, and rush to complete it? That’s Easy!” you say. You would feel relieved after you finish your todo list, because now you are free to enjoy the living part of your day, such as exerci- wait.. didn’t you already rush through that?

Currently, I use Joe’s Goals as my daily habit tracker. Anything that is easy to forget to do like exercising, writing a blog post, or completing three MITs, I put in my goals tracker. Almost everything on my habits list I enjoy doing, and nothing feels like a chore. They are all habits that I am trying to work into my daily life. I just can’t see the benefit of mixing these into my regular list along with “go get computer fixed” or “order Ikea furniture”.

So I guess you can see that I am pretty satisfied with my current system. What is yours, and are you satisfied?

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