What You Need to Know Before Writing a To-Do List

“Sometimes our stop-doing list needs to be bigger than our To-Do List” - Patti Digh

How effective do you manage your To-Do List? Do items reside there only for a short time before they’re actioned or is it more so a never-ending list that’s constantly growing causing frustration and even overwhelm? Did you know there’s a simple technique you can implement that will transform how you manage your To-Do List?

Let’s face it, most of us manage our To-Do List poorly. According to The Busy Person's Guide to the Done List, 41% of To-Do List items are never completed. It doesn’t matter whether your To-Do List is organised on a central document or is scattered over various documents, for most people it’s a wish list that doesn’t get done.

Why is this the case?

The most common reason is the To-Do List doesn’t have a timing associated with it. While the list documents intent to action the tasks on it, it lacks commitment of when it will be done if it’s not integrated into your daily schedule that contains your meetings, appointments etc. In other words, it’s missing the power of when.

What happens when this occurs is we leave ourselves open to getting caught up reacting to urgent demands for tasks of low importance, instead of devoting sufficient time to the tasks that will provide the biggest IMPACT on the achievement of our results.

What can be done to avoid this scenario?

The 2-Minute Rule (made famous by David Allen in Getting Things Done) is a great way to reduce and action a To-Do List. Essentially, if a new task takes less than 2 minutes then just do it ie. respond, delete, file etc because it’s likely it will take longer than 2 minutes by the time you put it on a list, remember context etc. Alternatively, if the task takes longer than 2 minutes then determine the next action ie. schedule when to action, delegate it etc.

The 2-Minute Rule works because you’re either actioning new tasks or deciding when you’ll action them. It’s simple but effective. If you want to get better at managing your To-Do List then leverage the power of when by applying the principles of the 2-Minute Rule.