How Your "Someday" List Reveals Who You Really Are And What You Really Want To Do

If you say you're going to do something "someday," what does that mean exactly? According to the team behind productivity app Any.do, if you don't make progress on that goal in six weeks, you're probably never going to.

Once upon a time, to-do lists were simply scrawled on scraps of paper. These days, the exploding number of productivity apps means that not only can people upgrade their lists—we’re also discovering new information about the way people actually work.

For instance, what happens when somebody puts an item on a "someday" list? What happens to it?

Recently, the team at Any.do, a productivity app that lets you assign tasks to Today, Tomorrow, Upcoming, and Someday lists, decided to find out. They analyzed a select group of highly productive folks who logged in daily, entered action-oriented tasks, and got at least 75% of their tasks done each day. (That’s a much higher completion rate than the average person, Any.do reports).

The "Someday" list items, says founder Omer Perchik, ran the gamut from planning a trip to Japan to fixing the kitchen sink. "They can be tasks with many steps that require lots of planning, or simple tasks that are easy to put off," says Perchik. "However, they tend to be less immediate items." One of the most common tasks on Any.do is "call mom," but that is usually in the "Today" bucket, not the "Someday" bucket.

Regardless of the task, though, Any.do discovered that if a "Someday" task hadn’t been moved up to a Today, Tomorrow, or Upcoming list within six weeks, the probability of it ever happening dropped off drastically.

What’s so special about six weeks? Says Perchik:

We think six weeks is the window where people are the most enthusiastic about doing something. The sense of novelty and excitement are great catalysts for getting things done. Planning a trip or fixing something around the house might be projects you feel up to today, but after six weeks they may have lost their original luster.

That realization can provide you with valuable insight. "Once the initial inspiration has had a chance to wear off, you’re left with your true intentions and that can be a very powerful piece of information," says Perchik. In other words, if you put "take skiing lessons" on your Someday list, and six weeks later you still haven’t researched the lessons (much less signed up for them), that’s a good sign that skiing isn’t a big priority in your life right now.

Sometimes that realization can be uncomfortable. Skiing is one thing, but if the item rotting on your someday list is more consequential—hunting for a better job, perhaps, or reaching out to a friend just diagnosed with a serious illness—this may spark some deeper thought. Which is good. If it’s the truth that something’s not a priority right now, go ahead and own that truth. But if, after an honest examination, it really is a priority, the fact that you haven’t gotten to it in six weeks should give you a bit of a wake-up call that something needs to change in your life.

That’s a big job for a little to-do list, but it’s an important one. Whether you get around to your someday items says a lot about you—and what you really want to do (someday).

[Image: Flickr user Space Ritual]

Add New Comment

9 Comments

  • Christine Purse

    Wait a minute. Any.do is reading my list? Then sharing the data? I will be deleting this app today.

  • Notarealemail

    Things you put in a to do list might be fairly personal. It's worrying to me that any.do is storing this data unencrypted on their servers and apparently reading through them.

  • Jose Palomino

    Laura, this reminds me about something you said either in your book 168 Hours or during your interview with me and that is that we are making choices.  Saying you’re going to take skiing lessons “someday” but not taking the steps TOWARDS that goal today or tomorrow means that’s the choice you’re making.  But instead of getting down about not taking those skiing lessons, maybe you made a choice to start a blog or read War and Peace instead.  It’s all about choices.

  • manilacitizen

    I somehow think this is a promotional article. But I love Any.Do anyway.

  • Tuija

    The article assumes that all list items are positive things, things that one really wants to do. If it is something your don't want to do in the first place but feel you must, it doesn't los "its luster" - it never had it.

  • Paul H. Burton

    Any.do and its findings point out something that David Allen - in his "creation" of the maybe/someday list - either didn't fully understand or, more likely, didn't feel was worth the battle with his earliest clients: This is the "dream" list and it's there to give us hope of who might become and what we might accomplish. Unfortunately, it's a double-edged sword because the minute we write these hopes down and review them week after week after week, we are reminded of who are NOT becoming and what we are NOT accomplishing.

    In creating QuietSpacing - my time management methodology - I eschewed the "someday" list in favor of the concept of when, exactly, will this item be considered again. By prioritizing everything on the to-do list, we are forced to consider relative importance. Dreams and hopes are important, they just don't belong on a list. When they mature to an intention - which means motivation has been assigned to them - they can be appropriately prioritized on a to-do list.

  • Michael Hopkins

    Hey, Paul. I think your system would get more traction if you weren't so cagey about it.

  • Andi

    Downloading the app now! The 6 weeks thing is interesting, so I guess I'd like to track my own progress with "Someday" to-dos and see if I can focus on getting things done in 6 weeks that I keep putting off.

    Thanks!