For A More Efficient To-Do List, Make It Public

For A More Efficient To-Do List, Make It Public

There’s a solid case to be made for going public with your goals. You can use the same method with your to-do list, and beyond the accountability factor, writing your list for someone else can help you make it more succinct and efficient.

Photo by

Research published in Psychological Bulletin found that recording goals publicly was the most effective method for achieving them. The study concluded:

Our findings are of relevance to those interested in changing their behaviour and achieving their goals, as well as to those who want to help them, like weight loss programs, money advice agencies or sport coaches. Prompting people to monitor their progress can help them to achieve their goals, but some methods of monitoring are better than others. Specifically, we would recommend that people be encouraged to record, report or make public what they find out as they assess their progress.

Obviously, there’s the accountability — when you know someone is aware of your progress, it might motivate you to work harder (although not everyone agrees). However, as Dr Joe Reddington explains over at his blog, making your task list public can help you edit it and make it more efficient, too. Reddington says when he decided to make his list public, “it instantly looked very poor”. He noticed repeats of the same task and tasks that were vague questions rather than statements.

He then tweaked his list accordingly:

  • “the azulejoe javascript could do with refactoring” becomes “Spend 40 minutes refactoring the azulejoe javascript”
  • “do the search of ISAAC twitter” becomes “Define ISAAC twitter as a project”
  • “properly work out how much staff costs you’ve applied” becomes both “Update the bids applies for file” and “Change structure of the ‘bids applied for”

His edits are much more specific, detailed and actionable, and this makes it easier to get them done. When it’s time to take on your tasks, you don’t have to waste precious time interpreting how to implement each one; you can get started right away. For more detail, head to Reddington’s full post below.

My to-do list is now public, and it’s the most useful thing I’ve done in years. [Joe Reddington via Reddit]

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.