Sometimes Your To-Do List Is Best Left Unfinished

Rupert's cupboard is empty.

On Monday we discussed using context and prioritization to better organize our to-do lists. Keeping the highest priority items at the top of our lists ensures that we’re getting the right things done in order to make real progress toward achieving our goals. Less important tasks get relegated to the bottom of the list and naturally fall off the list altogether when their time passes or we move on to bigger and better things.

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer likes things this way, recognizing that if she ever got to the bottom of her to-do list it would mean she had spent valuable time doing things that weren’t her priority.

What items are hanging around on your to-do list that just don’t matter? Obviously some things (like, say, paying taxes) have to be done whether we can be bothered or not, but other tasks are only important when we first add them to the list. Time and hindsight exposes such activities as either being worth the effort or not and there’s no shame in changing your mind and excising those that aren’t worthwhile.

Executing such cuts here and there will render your list more manageable, resulting in less anxiety and enabling clearer focus on the things that matter the most.

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