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Can A ‘To Do’ List Make You Happier?


When you think of a ‘to do’ list, does it make you happy?

Or does it make you feel stressed, anxious, and unsatisfied? 

Here’s the thing. A lot of people think of ‘to do’ lists as a practical solution to getting more done

Truth be told, very few things can help you to increase your productivity like a well-structured to-do list. 

But here’s the problem. 

Most of the time, our to-do lists consist mostly of obligations, involving work chores and projects that need to be done to carry our professional lives forward. 

And even if items on the checklist are personal, they tend to be more pragmatic

So for example, you might include list items like:

  • Finish that work project
  • Make those phone calls
  • Shampoo the carpet
  • Deep-clean the freezer
  • Do all the laundry

These are all important things, no doubt. 

But are to-do lists like this also making you happier?

And if not, is it possible that there’s a way to shift the idea of the to-do list to bring you even more happiness as you make progress in carrying your life forward? 

As it turns out, research supports the notion that there is a way to make your to-do list a happier place. 

And it basically involves setting goals that cover a slightly broader range of important life desires. 

Three Things That Make People Happier

It’s important for your life and your career to make more money and achieve more professional goals, for sure. 

But… the accumulation of money, power, and status aren’t necessarily always the best markers for success.

Recent research has shown that these three things actually make people even happier:

  • Building better relationships 
  • Achieving personal goals, and
  • Loving what you do

So when we back-engineer this information, we gain valuable insight into how we can actually set even better goals for ourselves on our to-do lists, that will help us to make even larger strides toward achieving a better sense of happiness in life.

What Types Of Goals Could Make You Happier? 

In addition to your professional goals and your traditional self improvement to-do list items, you can also build these three sources of happiness into your to-do list, starting today, to further increase the odds that your to-do list will bring you a greater sense of life satisfaction. 

For example, in the building great relationships category, you could write a to-do list item that says something like:

  • I’ll take one new acquaintance out to lunch this week. 

In the achieving personal goals category, you could set a to-do list item that sounds something like this:

  • I’ll spend one hour working on a passion project for myself, that has nothing to do with work or my job. 

In the loving what you do category, you could set a to-do list item that sounds something like this:

  • I’ll spend one hour this week focused on a project that truly brings me great life joy and satisfaction.

You don’t have to get super serious about these extra add-ons to your to-do list. 

But thinking about them and taking the time to add in these little tidbits can really do a lot to help you find a greater sense of purpose and happiness in life. 

It’s not rocket science. 

It’s more like happiness science

And it’s in your best interest to do as much of it as possible.


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