When we have “not started” a project or task yet, it might be useful to label it. That way, we can save it for later. However, the phrase “not started” isn’t the most appetizing. This article will look into the best words we can use to replace it.
What Can I Say Instead Of “Not Started”?
Perhaps one of the following examples will work best for you. You won’t know until you give them a try:
- To-do list
- In progress
- In the hopper
- On deck
The preferred version is “to-do list.” It works well to show a list of tasks or projects that need to be started. However, they are marked as “to-do” because we have not yet had the time to get around to them. At some point in the future, we will aim to.
“To-do list” means that you have things “to do” at some point. There isn’t a direct time pressure on any of these things, but you at least want to label them in such a way to remind you that you will need to start them at some point.
The definition of “to-do list,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “a list of the tasks that you have to do, or things that you want to do.”
- My to-do list is getting full. I think I should do some work to empty it in the near future.
- I’ll put it on my to-do list! I’ll make sure to get it done when I have a spare second.
- His to-do list is a mess! How can he ever expect to get any of this work done?
“Ideas” means that someone has a great list of things they want to start working on. It shows that those things have yet to be started, but when the correct spark of motivation or inspiration strikes, they will start making those “ideas” a reality.
Of course, “ideas” doesn’t directly state that something is “not started.” Instead, it just shows that you’ve come up with a plan to start working on at some point.
Context is most important if you’re going to use “ideas” as a label for “not started.” For example, if you have a work folder full of “not started” projects, it could make sense to label them as “ideas” until you’re ready to work on them.
The definition of “ideas,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “a suggestion or plan for doing something.”
- My ideas folder is running low. It’s time to open up the think tank again!
- I have a few ideas. I’ll start working on a couple of them for you over the coming weeks.
- My ideas are all over the place. I need to start thinking about which one will work best.
“Plans” show that someone has put forward some ideas for tasks or projects. However, they are usually nothing more than “ideas” at this stage.
At some point in the future, it’s likely that “plans” will be completed. However, there isn’t much of a rush because they are still in the early concept stages.
The definition of “plans,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “a set of decisions about how to do something in the future.”
- I have a few plans that I think will really benefit this company.
- My plans folder is full to the brim! Perhaps I should work on one of them to impress the boss.
- This man has far too many plans! We need to start carrying a few of them out!
“Thoughts” means that someone has put some effort into thinking of an idea. While they have yet to start working on the idea, they at least have the foundational things in place that might help them to complete it.
The definition of “thoughts,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “the act of thinking about or considering something, an idea or opinion, or a set of ideas about a particular subject.”
- I have plenty of thoughts ready to go, but I don’t know how to start with them.
- These are my thoughts, and I think it’s time we started a project.
- My thoughts are all kept in this folder. I don’t know which is the most appropriate.
“In progress” works to show that we are ready to start making progress on something. However, there isn’t a direct guarantee or timeframe set in motion yet.
When we get closer to completing a task (or at least deciding to start it), we usually change the status to “in progress.” However, some people do like to set this as the status before work even begins.
Psychologically, saying that something is “in progress” even when it is not is a great way to help you motivate yourself to do it. If it’s not a priority, that’s okay. We can simply wait until it’s time to “progress” on it, and we might be more likely to come up with a completion date.
- I have a few things in progress that I think will impress you, sir. Just bear with me.
- My in-progress folder is full of stuff now! I need to thin it out a little bit.
- Stop talking about all the things that are in progress and start showing me some results!
In The Hopper
“In the hopper” is a great idiomatic expression that shows that something is waiting for completion. A “hopper” is a large tub that contains multiple things. Often, someone will draw something out of the hopper at random.
The idea of this idiom is that you will decide at random when to complete a task within your hopper. Therefore, there is no guarantee when anything will be completed.
- I have a few ideas in the hopper. I’m just waiting to see which one works best.
- I have put them all in the hopper. Now stop hounding me about it.
- They’re in the hopper. I hope that’s good enough for you.
“On deck” means that something has been planned, but nothing more than that has happened yet.
“Deck” in this sense references boats and is used as a metaphor. It shows that there is something coming up that has been put “on deck,” but there isn’t an exact time when that thing will be taking place.
- I have a few plans ready and on deck. I’m just waiting to see which works best for me.
- These are all on deck. I’ll get them sorted soon enough.
- My on-deck folder is filled with things I’ll probably delete eventually!
“TBD” means “to be determined” or “to be done.” We can use it to show that something has yet to begin, but there will come a time in the future when it will start.
It’s a good acronym for both informal and formal procedures. It’s best to use it when something is on the horizon, but nobody knows exactly when it will happen until someone higher up than they are decides.
- Sorry, but this is TBD until further notice. I haven’t got the time to worry about it.
- I have heard that the meeting is still TBD. Do you have any news?
- That’s TBD! I’ll get around to it when I get around to it.
“TBA” means “to be arranged.” It works well to show that something has not yet been set up. We can show that we have thought about creating it, but we might not have had the time.
It’s common for things like business meetings to be in a “TBA” status. It works much better than using “not started” as a generic phrase.
- The planner has many TBA events marked down, but no dates are covered.
- We should discuss the meeting times so we can finally shift it away from TBA.
- That event is TBA! Sorry, but there are more important things to focus on.
“Unstarted” isn’t an officially recognized word in all English dictionaries. However, it means that we have not started something yet, which is why it works well on this list.
Even though it cannot be officially defined, it still states its meaning without much thought. Anyone reading the word “unstarted” will immediately understand what is meant by it.
- I have a few unstarted projects on that list, but I’ll be getting round to them soon.
- No, sorry. These are all unstarted because I do not prioritize them.
- You have too many things unstarted. It’s time to start getting them ticked off.
Again, “unbegun” isn’t an officially recognized word in all dictionaries. It still works well because it talks about things that have yet to start. However, it’s at the bottom of the list because it’s not a common word to see.
- I have plenty of tasks that are in my unbegun folder.
- These are unbegun, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have enough time to get around to them in just a few months.
- I have plenty of unbegun novels! The ideas are there; I just don’t know what to do with them.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.