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Productivity 101: The To-Do List

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To-do lists during finals period (Credit: Shao Kai)

Anywhere from the back of your hand to your Evernote, the to-do list could be the be-all, end-all of productivity hacks.

Every single thing in your life can be written onto a list and scratched out with a brutal dash. This simple yet deadly tool for every single university student is a tool to reckon with, as you cross out mischiefs managed and schedules followed. It has followed me through the fog of A-Levels, the blur of National Service, and the deeper depths of university life, as I list my days and tasks at hand before giving it a decisive cross out of my mind.

I have forgotten when I started crafting to-do lists. Perhaps it was when I’d forgotten how to write in proper sentences, stepping back into the simplest task at hand: to write a list of my thoughts, goals and dreams.

Though its purpose differs through time, a to-do list will rarely lead you astray, especially when you have it all lined up in a neat row of goals to keep and missions to complete.

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When I started off my university journey, it was the to-do list that saw me through exciting times and tough moments: striking off orientation camps on my list, meetings with friends, and finally readings to catch up with throughout the semester. In the fluid and every-changing chaos of life, the to-do list is a constant: different things to accomplish yet the same dash of line cuts through them all when complete.

A simple line, swift and quiet, marks the end of an event or a date, and lets you to move on to the next task at hand.

Perhaps it is not the most compassionate hack around, as it cuts through old events and sees them to the trash bin once the list is crossed out. But events and tasks are never meant to last forever. After all, it is the swift completion of one task at a time that brings us to the next one ahead, bringing a continual motion of life forth and onwards.

Being sentimental, I do keep some to-do lists that recorded the hallmarks of my life; to-do lists from my A-Levels and post-army days are kept as mementos. Those lists marked the times when I had to deal with the many things going on in this world, but as I quieted down and went back to the list it reminded me that every task has its time and place and I have to do them one step at a time. Each list withers slowly by each dash, as the satisfaction of crossing out something on the list rushes over me and propels me forward to do what’s next ahead.


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Shao Kai Chng
Chng Shao Kai is a first-year History major. On weekdays, he mugs, drinks milo-ping, takes his love on adventures, and saves snails. On weekends, he works at a bookshop, sells The Shadow Of The Wind like hotcakes, and drinks teh-ping. He is only as strong as his weakest knee.