In the fast-paced modern world, our go-to productivity tool is often the almighty To-Do list. But, what if I told you that the To-Do list, as most people use it, is more of a burden than a help? Don’t throw your lists out just yet – let’s take a deep dive into the problem and find a more efficient way to handle our To-Do lists.

The Dead Sea To-Do List

Do you often jot down tasks with the best of intentions, but then, weeks later, you find them untouched? I like to call this the “Dead Sea To-Do list.” The Dead Sea in Israel is so named because water flows into it but never out, so nothing can thrive. Similarly, tasks flood into your To-Do list but seldom flow out as completed tasks. If this sounds like you, worry not! There is a solution.

The Proper Use of To-Do Lists

To-Do lists should be an essential part of your productivity toolkit. The key is to think of them as a temporary storage facility for your tasks and ideas. Your brain isn’t infallible; you can’t remember everything. So, having a place – be it digital or paper-based – where you can unload your thoughts is crucial. This unburdening allows your brain to focus on other things. I personally use the iOS Reminders app to maintain multiple lists, such as podcast topics, video content ideas, etc.

From To-Do Lists to Calendar

So, how do we rescue our tasks from the Dead Sea To-Do list trap? The answer is simple: use your calendar. There’s truth to the saying, “What gets scheduled gets done.” The trick is to move your tasks from your To-Do list onto your calendar.

Planning Made Easy

Here’s how you do it:

1. At the end of each day, take a look at tomorrow’s schedule.
2. Determine how much free time you have around the existing commitments.
3. Go through your To-Do list and select tasks that can fit into the open slots in your calendar.

For example, if you have an hour free, look for tasks that can be completed in that time frame. If a task requires three hours and you only have one-hour slots, you can break it into smaller tasks or schedule it for a day when you have a three-hour slot available.

An Important Note

Once a task moves from your To-Do list to your calendar, mark it as complete in the To-Do list. Think of this action as moving it from temporary storage to an active phase. If something changes and you can’t complete the task as scheduled, simply reschedule it within your calendar. Don’t move it back to the To-Do list.

Rethinking To-Do Lists

In essence, we need to reframe how we think of To-Do lists. Instead of seeing them as repositories of endless tasks, view them as organizational tools for capturing ideas and planning. For instance, if you are planning to write a book, create a list for book topics. If you have bills to pay, set reminders. What’s important is that your To-Do list should not be stagnant; it should be a dynamic tool that feeds into your calendar for execution.


The To-Do list is undoubtedly a powerful tool when used effectively. Using it not as a permanent storage space but as a stepping stone to action through scheduling on your calendar is crucial. By avoiding the Dead Sea To-Do list syndrome, you can make your list an ally in achieving productivity and not let it become a repository of unfulfilled intentions.

In the end, the key takeaway is to be mindful and intentional with your To-Do lists. Transform them into active productivity tools rather than dead-ends. Maintain a fluid transition of tasks from your To-Do list to your calendar, and focus on execution. With this revised approach, you can steer clear of the Dead Sea To-Do list and navigate towards a more fulfilled and productive life.

Don’t be bogged down by endless tasks that never see the light of day. Revamp your approach, breathe life into your lists, and turn them into actions.

Happy planning!

Every month, I host a live masterclass aimed at helping you increase your productivity as a solopreneur. We’ve covered a wide range of topics so far, everything from gaining clarity in your work to effective daily habits, decluttering your workspace, maintaining health and wellness, and mastering time management. And we’re just getting started!

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