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To Do Lists Help With Organization But Must Be Used To Be Effective

To Do Lists Help With Organization But Must Be Used To Be Effective

By Jemimah Noonoo - Beaumont EnterpriseJanuary 27th 2008

Beaumont engineer Sina Nejad would forget some of his almost 15 meetings weekly without his to-do list.


The Sigma Engineers Inc. owner relies on an electronic appointment program to help track the firm's projects with clients including ExxonMobil Petrochemical Corp. and Crockett Street Urban Entertainment District.

"I never used to," Nejad said, speaking of his reliance on his lists. "I had everything in my head and it worked fine until I hit 50. All of a sudden, I needed something else." Nejad isn't alone, a recent survey concludes.

In honor of National Get Organized Month, a worldwide survey by Kelton Research found that there is a worldwide reliance on to-do lists in countries including the United States, Japan, Italy and France.


U.S. citizens reported the most use of such lists with 76 percent of respondents currently keeping one list or more, the study found. The study also found that to-do lists are stress management tools and have a calming effect on those who use them.

"I think what you write down you tend to respond to," said Mary Kelley, a Lamar history professor who also teaches a one-hour workshop on overcoming procrastination. "We certainly encourage them to write things down ... to make a list of when those deadlines are approaching and place them in a very visible form."

A reliance on to-do lists, however, doesn't automatically translate into productivity. The survey found that nationwide, the most number of days an item had ever stayed on a to-do list was 22 days. Worldwide, Italy ranked lowest at 14 days; the United Kingdom was 26 days.

"To-do lists are nothing but wish lists," said Barry Izsak, an Austin professional organizer and immediate past president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. "Unless you schedule time in your planner to do it, you are not going to get it done." Izsak is a well-known international speaker on time management principles.

Whether Southeast Texans will create and conquer their to-do lists once and for all remains to be seen. The first step - like any other recovery program - is acknowledging something must be done. "I don't think there are any of us who don't procrastinate, and it applies to our lives, not just school," Kelley said. "If it is interfering with your success, then you've got a problem."

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