To-do lists give us the ability to forget, inventorying the ideas that weigh on our minds.
But too much listing can transform our day in to that of a robot, programmed to complete the next task and not allowing for life's natural twists.
While to-do lists are handy tool in our belt of saneness, we must be mindful of the downside.
The time we take to compile a to-do list is time that we could have spent actioning one of those items - I could have written that thank-you letter in about the same time it took me to write, "Write thank-you letter", and then it's off my plate for good.
We write down extraneous information that we would not forget the next day. There are plenty of day-to-day tasks that we have conditioned ourselves to complete, yet we still are concerned that we may not remember said tasks and thus we include these items on our to-do lists - hopefully brushing your teeth needn't be written down.
A to-do list can be paralyzing, a detriment to productivity. The next morning when we pick up our list, we might fret at the thought of facing the tasks - "can you believe how many things I must accomplish today?" To get going, we do not tackle the mission-critical tasks, but rather we action many of the easy tasks to make ourselves feel good about the start of our day - we avoid the important tasks because we want our list smaller - we brush our teeth and cross it off the list.
I value to-do lists, so long as I'm aware of the pitfalls. I avoid building to-do lists in the morning or midday, relegating to-do list prep for the last few minutes of my workday and/or evening.