The True Danger of To-Do Lists

To-do List

To-do List

We all use to-do lists. And they are useful if handled well.

But to-do lists can be utterly destructive. A large to-do list is simply fodder for overwhelm. One glance is enough to convince you that you’ll never be able to do it all – and you won’t even get started on a single thing.

That’s when you need to change how you use those lists.

Now, before you can even begin to use another list productively, there is one, absolutely necessary step:

The List of Everything

This is not a to-do list. This is a first aid list to get everything out of your head and on paper. And you will need a big piece of paper. Get the biggest piece of paper you have.

And then write down everything that has a place in your thoughts.

– the stories you’re writing
– the marketing
– the deadlines
– Aunt Sally’s birthday
– summer camp
– paying the bills
– taxes
– a friend’s operation
– the traffic jams
– book sales
– reviews
– Facebook- etc. etc.

Get it all out.

Then get out markers, and mark every entry according to the field it belongs to. There may be writing, family, job, marketing, friends, and so on. Give each of those fields a color.

Then mark those you have no real influence on. Forget about those.

Now use that wild sheet of roaming thoughts to create a new list.

Give each field a heading and write out the tasks.

That will give you much more clarity. And it will let you decide where your priorities are. You will also realize that there is no way you can fit everything into one single day.

The next step is to plan (and boy, is that hard for me!). You can put deadlines to each task  – several will have real deadlines. Put in ones that are at least one week earlier.

Create your Task List

From your master list, you can create a daily list. And the trick is to put no more than THREE THINGS on your task list.

Granted, that is hard when you’re running a family. There are “deliverables”, things that must be done every day. But make sure you’re not the only one responsible for these things. Involve the family. Let them do their work, too.

Back to the three things on your list: These should have top priority, and you do them first, before writing that letter to Aunt Sally. Write 1k words in a story with a deadline. Put up that blog post, or do your promo posts in social media. (Outsource what you can afford to outsource, too. Maybe your kids love coming up with promo tag lines.)

Also make sure those things are doable and well defined. “Write my novel” is not well defined, while “write 1k words in my novel” is. It is also a very good idea to work with a fixed time per task such as “write 2x 45 minutes in my novel” or “spend 30 minutes on taxes”.

When you have done your three things, celebrate.

And then, only then, you may do something else from your list. But most of all, you are now allowed to do nothing. You’re done.

This feeling of “being done” is so important that you need to consciously bring it about every day. Because (and that’s the secret), you will learn to crave that feeling and get much more done than by pushing through with willpower alone.

Here’s some tapping to help you get there:

Even though I have so much on my mind, I can hardly think anymore, I’m okay the way I am, and I now choose to write it all out.

Even though it’s so hard to focus with all the stuff on my mind, I’m okay the way I am, and I now allow myself to focus on three things per day, and let the rest just happen or not.

Even though it feels like I’m neglecting everything if I’m focusing on only three things per day, I’m okay the way I am, and I now allow myself to celebrate getting those done.

Your Turn:
What are your three tasks for today?
How easy was it for you to choose them?
How does feel to get them done?
Write a comment and share the good stuff!

Image Source: F. Moebius

PS: If this blog article made you feel uncomfortable or angry, take a deeper look. Who taught you about to-do lists and how to organize your day? Does it matter that you follow that advice, or are you free to try out something new?

With my clients, I often look into the dynamics that created their beliefs about the world and how life has to be. That’s where most blocks come from – and that’s important background to shifting them.

EFT is the fastest way I know to shift limiting beliefs, old thought habits and other kinds of blocks. If you want help with that, click HERE and send me an email. Together, we’ll figure out how I can support you best.

PPS: My newsletter contains a full tapping round to go with my blog posts, so you can start shifting your mindset. Sign up through the form on the upper right hand corner, and receive that tapping round plus occasional special offers. If you’re on a mobile, you can sign up through this link: Newsletter Sign-up

About fmoebius

I'm a writer and coach. I love helping writers be more creative, more productive and more profitable. With EFT, life gets easier. Blocks can fall away. Limiting beliefs just shift. You can build your dream life. Let me help you do this.
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