Running out of things to do

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What if you woke up one day, looked at your to-do list and there was nothing on it. No tasks, no projects, nothing to do or update or learn–nothing. Bupkis. A blank slate.

Relax, it’s never going to happen. But imagine for a moment that it did.

It would be weird, wouldn’t it? Since pre-school, we’ve always had things to do. Now, nothing? It would be frightening. And exciting. You can do whatever you want.

If you had to fill your list from scratch, what would you put on it? Tasks and projects, big and small, now or next–what would you put on your list?

When I began my recent “Kanban” task management experiment, that’s what I asked myself. I emptied my head and wrote down everything I could think of. Then I went through my lists in Evernote and added more items.

Well guess what? Between my “deferred” and “backlog” and “ready” lists, I have a grand total of 59 tasks and projects. Comparing this to the many hundreds in Evernote, it’s shocking.

When I look at my new list, I get a little nervous, thinking I must be forgetting things. But I also feel good. Like I’m starting a new adventure.

Starting over is liberating. It gives you a fresh perspective on your priorities. And, like cleaning out closets and paring down to the essentials, it makes room for new and better.

Of course, I’m not done. I haven’t gone through everything. Not even close. My Someday/Maybe list alone has hundreds of additional ideas.

But I’ve got to say, so far, my little experiment is a huge success. I look forward to looking at my options. I enjoy choosing–and doing–the things on my list. And, I’m getting a lot done.

Come on in. The waters fine.

Now, I’m not suggesting you jettison whatever it is you use to collect and manage your tasks and projects unless you want to. I suggest you experiment, like I am, and start some new lists.

If you use a new app or system, do like I did and start adding the most obvious or pressing matters. If you use the same app, move everything to a single (temporary) folder or file and start adding things back.

If your lists have grown too big and unwieldy, if you find yourself ignoring many entries (like the hundreds of Someday/Maybe items in my system), if you find yourself slacking off from a weekly review, this might be just the thing to jump-start the new, better organized and much more relaxed you.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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