How your to-do list is failing you.

This is one of the books that I'm currently reading. I bought it after catching a review that explained how the author, David Allen, makes a case against the traditional to-do list.

This caught my attention because I make a to-do list almost every day and it is rare that everything gets checked off - which is more than a little frustrating. To-do list enthusiasts would say to simply transfer unfinished tasks to the next day, so this is what I'd do and it works to a certain extent. Some projects just never seemed to get done, no matter how many times I'd write it down for the day, and after a couple of months I'd have a whole list of stuff that just wasn't getting anywhere.

What's a girl to do?

One of the reasons that David Allen says that our to-do lists don't work is because the stuff we're writing down isn't actionable. For example, writing "Get Project X done" in your planner is not going to work. Why? Because you can't actually do a project; you can only do the actions related to it. One project can equal 5 different action steps you need to take to actually complete that project. So next time when you're writing up your to-do list, ask yourself, "Are all these items actionable?" because you'll probably find that there's plenty of stuff that needs to be broken down.

For example, I really wanted to mail a package to somebody, but I couldn't get myself to take action on it.  I finally broke it down:
- schedule day when I can actually get to post office before they close.
- bring cash to buy stamps.
- go to grocery story and buy the right sized envelope.
- take time to sit down and look up the address of the person.

All these things needed to get done before I could "Mail Package." 
In other words, mailing that package wasn't an action step, it was a project that I need to break down into action steps.

Since we often don't take the time to consciously simplify our to-do stuff into clear and actual steps, our subconscious is silently driving us crazy trying to work on all the projects we have buzzing around in our mind, draining precious mental energy. This is what was happening to me. So I'm glad I've found a solution. I'm only on page 50 something in the book and it gives plenty more valuable pieces of advice. I've only shared one of its tips. Hope it helps. :)

1 comment:

  1. It's a great book and I actually have a planner for work that is set up by this principal. Works great. I write EVERYTHING DOWN!


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