Why I find having 19 To Do Lists better than having just one

Colin Wren
7 min readJul 21, 2021
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Over the last 13 or so years I’ve tried multiple To Do List apps.

I started with Things which was expensive compared to it’s peers at the time, but had tools for projects and tracking their completion.

I then moved to Epic Win which offered to turn my To Do List into a game and give me XP for completing the things I needed to get done.

I’ve tried any.do, Remember the Milk, Wunderlist and eventually OmniFocus which did admittedly actually have some staying power, but that still shared many attributes with the others on why I stopped using them.

The problem with ‘Someday’

Pretty much every To Do List app follows the same pattern of:

  • What to focus on Today
  • What’s coming up Tomorrow
  • Stuff to do ‘Someday’

There might be variations on the theme such as allowing items to have a due date or assigning them to projects, but the timescale for which an item can be associated generally falls into those 3 ‘buckets’.

This means that when using the app you fixate on completing the items in Today and Tomorrow, and if you don’t think it’s going to be done in those days it goes back to the ‘Someday’ pile.

Over time, that ‘Someday’ pile grows and grows until it gets to a point where you feel overwhelmed by how many items you’ve got in there and prioritise it (knowing full well you’ll likely never get to it before the next clear out).

Looking at my ‘Someday’ pile would often make me feel like I was failing at being productive, as my aspirations were bigger than my free time to chase them. This feeling was even worse with To Do Lists that offered projects, as I’d have ‘Someday’ piles across multiple projects.

An example of this would be when I did my New Years Resolution a couple of years ago and set up a number of items around making music, I put them in ‘Someday’ in the hope that I’d eventually schedule them, but as life got in the way I had a constant reminder that I wasn’t being creative any more.

Understanding how I plan

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Colin Wren

Currently building reciprocal.dev. Interested in building shared understanding, Automated Testing, Dev practises, Metal, Chiptune. All views my own.