The problem with your to do list is it’s a to do list


I’ve been guilty of this myself. Creating a list of things I need to do each day, a collection of must-do’s and should-do’s and want-to-do’s, and rarely completely everything.

I would get the urgent stuff done but not necessarily get the most important stuff done, or even work on it.

And that was the problem.

I didn’t leave myself enough time to do “deep work” because there is a never-ending line up of other things I needed to do, and new stuff coming in every day.

I never got to the end of my daily list because my list was endless.

Productivity expert Mark Forster, author of Do it Tomorrow, which I’m currently reading, suggests a different approach. He says that instead of using an “open list” where new tasks are added as and when they come in, we use a “closed list,” meaning once we’ve made our list for the day, we add nothing to it.

If you get a call or email or remember something that needs your attention, unless it is a genuine emergency, you add it to your list for tomorrow.

This allows you to plan your day and allocate enough time to everything you have decided you will do.

Not necessarily everything you need to do or should do, everything you WILL do. And that’s an important distinction.

Your closed list is a commitment you make to doing the things on that list. It might seem like a minor difference but making a WILL DO list instead of a TO DO list forces you to decide what’s important and allocate enough time to do it.

If you’re frustrated with too much to do each day, this could be a simple way to gain some control over your day.