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New Year Challenge: Ditch the To Do List

Dec 10, 2020 9:30:00 AM

ToDoListYes, you read that right. Ditch the To Do List in 2021. Seriously, those anchors of personal productivity are more trouble than they are worth. The intentions are all good, and the trusty old To Do List is better than nothing, but honestly, they are not worth the hundreds of tablets you have them written on. Do yourself a favor and stop creating To Do Lists.

Why you ask?

Simple, I reply.

The To Do List gives people a false sense of being in control of their behavior and misses the mark on what is most important about getting things done. Getting these items on your list done is the most important thing about getting them done. Think about this for a minute: is it more important to start something or finish it? Yes, I know all about the most important step in any journey is the first one, but what the hell good is the journey if you start it but never actually arrive at your destination? I dare you to look around your house or office and identify all the well-intended initiatives you have taken the first step towards completing. I will admit it, I have too many to count, but I do not think I am alone. Whether it is painting the guest room, mulching the garden beds, writing the Christmas cards, trying that awesome new recipe, or just doing some honest prospecting for new business; the To Do Lists are full of these types of important things to get done. All those things have been written down on a To Do List without getting completed. Why does something that can make us feel so committed be so unproductive?

Think of what you do get done and what makes those things different than all those “must start” items on your tablet that you may have just lost. Without a compelling reason to complete those tasks it just opens the door for a new priority to jump to the front of the line and delay all those other high priority tasks. You must ask yourself, what happens if I do not get this done by Friday, or whatever reasonable deadline you need to impose on yourself. Without knowing and committing to why things must be completed they very often just do not get completed without being rescheduled at least a few times. Come on, admit it, this is how you allow your To Do Lists to become your I Am Thinking About It Lists.

The idea is to train yourself to live life with a sense of urgency, not panic, just simple urgency to get things done. Starting is great, but finishing is so much more satisfying isn’t it? Be bold and start writing down things with a commitment to a completion date and watch how much more productive you can be when finishing becomes the goal.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash