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Why a “to do list” doesn’t always work!

Many years ago I began a habit of doing a to do list for work. My main reason for starting it was to manage the work load, I was getting busy at work, and pushing myself to do more tasks and activities than I could actually handle, so a “to do list” was my solution for getting things done!

"The trick is to make sure it has meaning and relevance otherwise you’re creating more work for yourself than you think"

There in lies the problem, I was acting on a list because I thought that’s what I had to do. But the problem was, I wasn’t actually getting anything done, sure things on the list were getting “ticked off” but then more things were getting added and it seemed like a never ending cycle of “things to do”, and the more I did the more it become a burden. In fact at one point, I would purposely put easy tasks on the "to do list" so I can do the action of striking it off, and then I would even go the lengths of putting tasks on, in which I had already completed just so I could tell myself the so called "to do list" was working, when in fact I knew it wasn't!

Now I don’t want to down play what a “to do list” can actually do for you, because if done and executed correctly, it can actually have a real positive outcome.

The trick is to make sure it has meaning and relevance otherwise you’re creating more work for yourself than you think.

So how do you use a to do list correctly then? My thoughts on this are simple, but since I reviewed how I do mine, it has made a massive impact on my productivity.


Make sure you have substance behind each task when putting your list together, try to make it no more than 10 items per to do list per day, any more than this I find it becomes overwhelming.


Put timings around each item, so how long do you need to complete the task at hand.


What resources do you need, people to help you reach and accomplish each task.


Probably most important is putting together a column that has the title;

“by doing this task it will get me closer to my goals”

If your answer is no, get it off the list, if the answer is yes, but not important enough to action, then have a corresponding column that says;

“who can I delegate this to”


Have another column that says;

"what is the one thing I can do right now to get me closer to accomplishing this task?"

This ensures you don't just write a list for the sake of writing a list, as I mentioned it needs to have meaning, but it needs to be followed up with a targeted action.

So there are some simple tips on how to ensure a "to do list" is not only needed, but productive and not just another thing to do.

So to sum it up, always make sure whatever you are doing or putting down has a meaningful outcome that is important to you and the overall results of what you’re trying to achieve.

Till next week,

Michael Basagre

Main Blog Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

#Time #Discipline #SuccessTips #SimonSinek

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