The title says it all. To-Do lists I don’t get along, period. I know they’re helpful, I know they’re the best way to Get stuff done, I know the hundreds of examples and studies that prove that they help. I just can’t bring myself to use them with any consistency. I’ve tried a physical notebook, whiteboards, and post-its. I’ve tried dozens of software solutions. Gmail tasks, Emacs Org-Mode, text files, notepad, and a bunch of other solutions. I’m currently trying Astrid Tasks, which has the added benefit of harassing me on my phone with massive doses of guilt, in the form of ‘helpful’ messages, when I don’t get to the things I promise myself I’ll do.

It always starts out so innocently. I make lists, and for a few days I manage to knock the items off, one by one. “I’m awesome at this, look at how much I’m getting done.” Then comes the inevitable letdown and crash. I think it stems from optimism really. “I got to everything yesterday, I’ll just add one more item today.” The scope creep starts, one or two items slide, and start the endless chain of bouncing from day to day, until the daily ritual becomes dreading having to move the “due date” up to tomorrow. This pattern continues until the accumulated psychic stress from the pile of undone items reaches the breaking point and I take the inevitable action. I delete to TODO application and forget about the whole thing, and go back to managing my TODO list in my head.

Until the next time hacker news links to some TODO app, then the cycle starts all over again. I think I have a problem.