To-do lists are awful. They just don’t work, for me at least, and I think I’ve figured out why.
Chronology, or the standard due date approach is the wrong order. The wrong lens.
What’s working for me is the following:
- Make a list. It always starts with that.
Pick exactly one thing and do that. Do it like it’s the single most important thing on the planet. Think Message to Garcia. If I’m not willing to set everything else aside, and get it done, odds are really high that it’s totally not worth doing, or that there’s something else I should be doing instead.
The one thing you choose, must be of your own choosing. This is most important. Unlike hapless Rowan, ordered by President McKinley to search the Cuban countryside for a Garcia in a country full of them, the thing I choose to do must be mine.
It’s that last point, and the method of choosing, which correlates most highly to the actual completion of tasks. Scott Adams’ book: “How to Fail…” postulates:
…if a book helps you see the world in a more useful way or amps up your energy level, it becomes part of the fabric of your personal luck.
Adams, Scott (2013-10-22). How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life (Kindle Locations 3559-3560). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
Scott’s focus on energy, and having more of it, is the positive, cup half-full, perspective. I just ran across Rohan’s emphasis on stress is the negative, cup half-empty, perspective:
Ask the question – “which item’s completion will remove the most stress?” – and reorganize the list.
I know which one I like better, yet both seem to have their place. 🙂