Differences Between To-Do Lists and Task Lists

31 Jan, 2023 | Read in 5 minutes

Discover the key differences between To-Do Lists and Task Lists to better manage your tasks.


A business, work and daily activities can only run efficiently with a task list. This list is the primary support for efficiency and productivity. People who feel overwhelmed by a ton of work are often unfamiliar with to-do lists. Or if they get used to it, they use it ineffectively.

Task lists are often associated with to-do lists and priority lists. However, if you dive deeper, these two terms are different. A to-do list is part of the task list that contains non-professional activities. Nonetheless, some remote employees often use it.

The most crucial point of the to-do list is not what's on the list, but you're the main priority. You are the one who completes the to-do list. Maybe you didn't realise it when you started your day at the office, opening multiple browser tabs and responding to emails. You know that you must complete many tasks besides responding to emails. Then you end up multitasking.

In 2018, Stanford News released an article on multitasking. The report reveals that multitasking changes the brain and makes you less productive. Switching tasks quickly will reduce brain productivity by 40% due to mental blocks.

To avoid multitasking, you can use task lists and to-do lists. But before that, let's get to know these two terms more deeply.

What is a To-Do List?

The simple definition of a to-do list is a list of tasks that you need to complete. To-do lists can also contain things you want to do, and it's personal. Most often, to-do lists are made based on a priority scale. Generally, lists are written on paper that you can paste in easy-to-see places.

To-do lists are used for short-term priorities, for example, a day. Its use is to help the memory remember what needs to be done soon. Daily to-do lists make your day more productive and efficient.

What is a Task List?

While the task list is a list of tasks, you must do it over the long term. The task list describes tasks in more detail than the to-do list.

Unlike the to-do list, some people make task lists in digital form. They divide task lists by duration, such as weekly lists or specific projects. To-do lists help you plan agendas, meetings and other activities.

Differences between To-Do Lists and Task Lists

We divide task lists and to-lists based on their use and scope. Here are the details:

1. The Utility

To-do lists are often used for personal rather than professional purposes. It usually contains to-the-point sentences, and only owners understand them. Professionals use to-do lists in several frameworks, such as Scrum.

Scrum framework uses a to-do list to write down activity details in each progress. The leader will create a global to-do list, while the developers will create a detailed version. Each sentence should be clear so that the whole team understands the goal.

While the task list helps make steps in the project. At the beginning of the project, the leader will break down the task and group it based on the timeline. Before starting the project, the entire team understands every step forward. So a to-do list is a detailed version of a task list if it's in a professional setting.

2. The Scope

To-do lists are personal and for short-term goals. It only organises your activities for a day or a specific duration. Its presence keeps you organised and becomes an everyday external memory. To-do lists also eliminate unnecessary activities and prevent wasted time.

While the task list generally includes weekly, monthly or timeline activities for a project. This means that anyone and more than one person can use this list. The task list can also be a milestone in a project that signifies each project's phase has been completed. However, some task lists can contain a list of daily tasks but in a collaborative version.

Managers generally make task lists in digital versions through project management tools that are more accessible to others. On the task list, you can group which tasks are prioritised through the Eisenhower Matrix. Another function of the task list is to track the project's progress.

Benefits of To-Do Lists and Task Lists

The simple solution of taking 30 minutes daily to make a to-do list helps set goals. These notes help boost productivity and make life more organised. But there are other benefits of these two lists. Here are some more:

1. Boost motivation

It's easy to say, “I want to get that promotion”, but you still don't know how. Therefore, start making to-do lists and task lists for the steps you have to do. As you complete each step, you'll gain the confidence to cross items off your list.

2. Improved memory

We are all incapable of remembering every single thing that happens in life. And to-do lists are an aid to your memory in retaining important information. You won't lose any of this information if you look at the list daily. Remembering essential things will reduce stress and anxiety.

3. Better Organisation

With to-do lists, organising tasks makes things more manageable. You can see an outline of unfinished tasks and cross out those completed. Having a to-do list also means saving time and using it for other activities.

4. Be more productive

Productivity is always related to focus and priority. The more tasks you cross out on the list, it means you've maximised the time you have. When you don't have a to-do list, your focus will be divided into unimportant things. It also signifies that time management is bad.

5. More personal time

Between meetings or working in the office, try to make time for activities you like. A to-do list will help you manage your time and complete tasks more efficiently, leaving free time for hobbies. You can start planning each task and the time needed. Try to be honest with yourself and start committing to a schedule; you will get time to relax and enjoy your hobbies.


To summarise, To-Do Lists and Task Lists are both effective tools for organising and prioritising tasks. The key difference between the two lies in their scope and level of detail.

The choice between a to-do list and a task list comes down to personal preference and the type of work you are doing. To-do lists are broader and less specific, while task lists are more focused and detailed.

Choose the ideal free project management tool using VirtualSpace that aligns with your preferences and the nature of your tasks. VirtualSpace empowers you to stay organised, prioritise effectively, and enhance productivity.

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