If procrastination is something that happens to you often, trust me, you're not alone. And, if you're like most people I know who struggle with procrastination, you probably waste time feeling guilty about it too. What you may not know is that your daily to-do list (or even your task management software) is one of the main sources of this never-ending cycle of procrastination.
A to-do list is not a real plan.
When working from a to-do list, the list doesn't convey enough information to help you stay on track and avoid procrastination. A to-do list is missing three key pieces of information: the priority, the time needed to complete the task, and the actual time available.
When you work every day with a to-do list, you don't have a clear view of the consequences of procrastination. At a given moment, deciding to delay starting a task doesn't seem like a big deal. You're sure you'll have plenty of time later. After all, your to-do list doesn't give you any idea of your available time in the future.
Now, think about a calendarized plan. A plan includes not only the tasks to be completed, but also the specific dates and times you will work on them. A plan also includes everything else you're juggling in your life so you can see how much time you actually have available. When you make the decision to delay starting a task and you have an actual plan to refer to, you can see the future consequences.
Difference between a simple list and a real plan.
If you just overwhelm your life with a to-do list, but don't make the exact plan of when and how you will do them, your work will take forever. By nature you will choose the tasks you like the most, or the simplest ones, so that you leave all the heavy stuff at the end. But your work does not end there, it will continue to increase, so it is not a great idea to leave the heavy stuff to the end. On the contrary, if you manage your tasks with deadlines, the organization will be better. At the end of the day you have to do everything, what you like and what you don't, so it's better to organize it so it doesn't take more time and you have even less energy.