Take that, email-as-To-Do-list people

Previously on The Blank Screen… Cult of Mac writer Charlie Sorrell argued that you should stick to email (and a few other things) for your To Do list. I shook. I had to have tea. But in the same spirit of showing you Sorrell’s arguments when I don’t agree with them, I want to show you other people saying much the same as I do about how this is A TERRIBLE IDEA AND THEN SOME.

A to-do list contains only items you put on it. Your inbox, on the other hand, is like a spout with no spigot. You have no control over incoming items, except to consider them one by one and delete them—a highly ineffective way to cultivate a to-do list. Messages turn up at all hours of the day. They can come from anyone with no regard to the hierarchy that may determine your actual to-do list. And more likely than not, only a fraction of them will reflect what you need to get done.

Jill Duffy, PC Mag (12 March 2012)


If you’re conflating email and task management, then the job of simply communicating–reading and replying to your messages–gets bogged down by all the emails you leave sitting in your inbox simply so you won’t forget to address them. (And there are probably a few to-do reminders in there that you sent to yourself!) This approach also makes managing your to-do-list problematic: when you need to quickly identify the right task to take on next, nothing slows you down like diving into your inbox to scroll through old messages.

Alexandra Samuel, Harvard Business Review (7 March 2014)

There. I’ll shut up now. Probably.

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