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WIN ONE, LOSE SOME

The to-do list method for people with busy lives and short attention spans

A journalist uses a pencil in a notepad
Reuters/Michael Dalder
Simple.
  • Lila MacLellan
By Lila MacLellan

Quartz at Work reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

Productivity science is generally unkind to standard to-do lists. We’re told that they feed the impulses of our faulty brains in all the wrong ways.

They call our attention to tasks that are easy to quantify and thus easy to “complete.” They can allow small chores to feel more pressing and important than they are, making us prioritize those tasks that seem urgent (responding to email), when other, non-urgent projects would offer greater payoff (organizing your thoughts before a strategy meeting).

But we can’t get enough of the little brain-chemical kick that follows every checkmark.

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