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The Psychology of To Do Lists


writing a to do list

To Do Lists are highly effective for a number of reasons. Whether you make your list on paper, a dry erase board, a phone app or even on the back of your hand, the odds of those things getting done goes up exponentially once you write them down (or type them out).


Benefits of To Do lists include the following:

Anxiety Reduction

Even if you have a massive to do list, writing it out can provide immediate relief. Your brain works in overdrive to remember things you have to do, while it lets go of those things that are already done. This is called the Zeigarnik effect, named from a Russian psychologist who studied humans and tasks.

checking off list item

Marching Orders

Creating a To Do list gives you your marching orders for the future. It outlines those things that are a priority for you and leaves then hanging out there waiting to be checked off.

to do list

Visual Reminder

Much like a Post-It Note on your computer screen, a To Do list is a visual reminder of tasks undone. It’s essentially a billboard for your brain of what needs your attention and effort.

handwritten to do list

Proof Positive

Crossing items off of your To Do list is the source of great satisfaction for many people. Regardless of whether the task was small or large, it’s done – and that’s satisfying. For some, that feeling can inspire them to continue completing tasks.

Steps Toward Larger Goals

While the items on a To Do list are sometimes seem mundane, they are sometimes part of a larger project. For example, cleaning out the garage can lead to putting together an upgraded workbench. The workbench can lead to wood working projects. Those projects can serve as a catalyst for a small business … and so on.

If you’d like to upgrade your To Do list, we recommend a glass Dry Erase Board or a free-standing Dry Erase Board.

Glass Dry Erase Board

If creating a new workspace (any size or location) is on your To Do list, we recommend a little place by the name of Office Furniture EZ – where we’ll come to you for a free Space Planning Appointment!


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