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A criticism of the TODO list

Recently there was the blog article on planning using TODO lists to help complete your study.

As I saw an article (below) relating to TODO lists, I thought I'd throw it into the discussion. This offers scheduling (allocating) time instead as an alternative idea for those that find TODO lists have some of the problems mentioned.


Note that I don't believe in either method alone, other than for occasional use or hitting a deadline when there is the need to focus on specific tasks or time-box something. Both can be used together though (i.e. you schedule time for certain tasks on the TODO list). However for trying to work long term, neither works for me. A big part is finding what works which differs between individuals.

As explained in my reply to the TODO article, there are at least two components which scupper the best laid plans of TODO lists and schedules - realism of tasks and motivational hunger. I'm less motivated if there are enough unknowns, or the task is too large and unrealistic or not something I'm good at from past experience. [Note being able to cope here and being a 'can do' person is a great way to get ahead in a career since others will also shy from difficult ill-defined tasks]. Doing too much of something (or something is far more pressing or interesting at this moment) also means tasks won't get completed or we'll feel burned out trying to do them - you can only sprint for so long - small chunks often are usually better that marathon sessions just to get tasks over with. The hare and tortoise can be seen as an allegory for this.

So where does this leave chess. I wish I was saying it as someone who'd made a title and then I could say it with a little bit more authority, but as I'm too a learner at good amateur standard, the best I can do is draw parallels from what I've succeeded in. If you need to organise your time and tasks to get enough work done then by all means do it. Just make sure the tasks aren't trying to accomplish more than one or two small things at once (learning a 25 move variation in an opening you don't really know well when you aren't a strong player, is not that, remembering what options Black has after move 6, and what the rough plan to each, is). Make sure the tasks you are accomplishing are the important ones given the time you have (not missing simple tactics is more important than knowing all the openings even if you could accomplish that). Avoid information overload. Aim to do study often, make a habit of it, than cram for a week or two, get demotivated, forget it all, then try to restart next year. And remembering knowing is one thing, being able to demonstrate it on the board and win is the end goal.

Happy to be corrected by others that have got further than I.

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