The Emotional Benefits of a To-Do List

Employees often feel overwhelmed when faced with a multitude of tasks. It can feel as though there isn’t enough time or opportunity to focus on one thing at a time when check-ins and competing deadlines are coming in from all directions.

Getting Organized

But a simple tool can be extremely effective from an emotional standpoint when managing that stress. Enter: the humble to-do list. Simply creating a list of the day’s or week’s priorities can go a long way toward making that list of obligations seem more manageable. Here are a few reasons why.

A small step like documenting obligations can make a big difference when conceptualizing and organizing outstanding tasks. Even a relatively long list of action items can seem feasible when it fits onto a small piece of notepad paper. Moreover, by putting everything on a single to-do list, employees can at least get the sense that they aren’t forgetting something in all the chaos.


Looking at a list of tasks is a great first step in prioritizing those tasks. This could mean tackling the most challenging item first or eliminating some low-hanging fruit. Putting tasks in one place makes it easier conceptually to sort and prioritize.

The Joy of Crossing Items Off a List

Few things feel more rewarding than crossing items off of a to-do list. The feeling is so great that it can provide a genuine mental boost for employees to add relatively easy items to a list just to be able to cross them off. This could include submitting a weekly timecard that takes 5 minutes to complete or replying to an e-mail with a simple yes or no answer. If the work needs to get done, why not give oneself credit for it?

It’s amazing how something as simple and seemingly minor as creating a to-do list to track progress on various goals and projects can have a profound impact on one’s mental and emotional state, as well as provide a low-tech means of staying organized in an often chaotic world.

Authored by Lin Grensing-Pophal

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