Ben Borgers

Writing Tasks Down

June 3, 2022

There’s a funny thing about my to-do list: when I write something down on my list, it generally gets done.

Contrast this to when I just try to remember it: it generally doesn’t get done.

There’s something about writing a task down that suddenly makes me feel like the task is my opponent. Something to be beaten. It’s found its way onto my to-do list, and therefore I must strike it off in order to return to a clean slate.

Maybe that’s a bit over-exaggerated. But oftentimes, the only kick I need to do something is to add “Empty suitcase and bring downstairs” to my to-do list for the day. Then, doing the task becomes a way of helping myself rather than a chore.

On top of that: I’ve definitely built an unhealthy expectation that every task comes with a checkbox. Sometimes I add “Change into long pants” or “Gym” to my to-do list, just so I have something to check off after I do them. My brain just finds it unsatisfying to finish doing something and then not having access to the tiny boost of serotonin that comes from checking something off.

It’s probably not a healthy thing that I’ve gotten used to, but there are worse vices in the world. If my vice is needing a to-do list checkbox to motivate myself to get things done, then there are worse positions to be in.