For most of us, trying to remember the list of things we need to do is a mental struggle that adds stress to our lives. We excel at focusing on one task, and are not so good at juggling or remembering lots of tasks.
It’s just how our brains work.
That’s why we make lists of the things we need to do. Lists reduce stress by eliminating the mental struggle to remember them, and by removing the constant worry that we’re forgetting something important. We can simply check our list at any time to refresh our memory, so we don’t feel the pressure to keep them in our brains anymore.
One of the primary reasons I created Sooner Or Later was to reduce my personal stress level by moving my list of things to do from my brain, where I struggled to remember them all and usually failed, to my mobile device, which I always have with me and is really good at remembering lists of things.
But, you might ask, why create Sooner Or Later? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of apps that manage lists of tasks. Why not use one of them?
Believe me, over the years I have tried many of these apps with varying degrees of success. In the end, they all failed to reduce my level of anxiety about the things I need to get done.
The typical cycle with these apps is that they work great for about a week. You move tasks out of your brain and into the app, and you feel real relief as you don’t have to remember them anymore.
But after a week or two, moving items into the list no longer relieves your anxiety, the list becomes overwhelming, and you simply stop using it. And why would you? It’s taking up your valuable time, and not reducing your anxiety, which is the whole reason you wanted to use it in the first place.
So why do these apps all fail in this way?
In order to answer this question, we need to understand what is providing the stress relief in the first place.
If your brain believes that your list is trustworthy, moving an item to that list allows your brain to relax and “let go” of that item. That is what provides the stress relief.
However, if your brain is worried that you might miss something important, even if it’s on the list, then moving an item to the list provides no relief. Your brain still cannot “let go” of that item.
The funny thing about your brain is that you cannot trick it for long. Once it realizes that your list is not trustworthy, it knows that it must still try to hold on to the item, and you don’t get the stress release anymore.
So, the reason that traditional task management apps fail is fundamentally because they are not trustworthy.
Armed with that knowledge, I set out to build a better app that is trustworthy and can continue to relieve stress over a long period of use.
Every single feature of Sooner Or Later is designed around this principle of trustworthiness.
For example, this is why you won’t find task filters, arbitrary categories and views, or any other nooks and crannies where your tasks can hide, causing you to miss something important and lose the trust of your brain. With Sooner Or Later, tasks are always right where you expect, giving your brain confidence that you aren’t missing anything when you review your list.
You don’t really have to understand all of this in order to benefit from using Sooner Or Later. You can simply use it naturally and be amazed at how it just seems to work better than any to-do list you’ve used before.
But, if you really understand this principle, you can use it to optimize the way you use Sooner Or Later to fit your lifestyle and maximize your benefit.
In my own life, I have used this principle to develop what I call the Context-Focus system, which has been a life-changing experience for me.