Why Your To-Do List Isn’t Working

Your to-do list isn’t working for you because you are trying to reduce 3 steps to just one. To get your to-do’s to done, requires three essential action steps:

1. Collect

So you’re in the shower and you think of a great idea or a task that needs doing. You are compelled to write this idea down, so you don’t forget it. Still wrapped in a towel and dripping wet, you find the nearest paper and pen and write this thought down. Phew! Now that idea is safe to retrieve. Maybe you’ve even written it down on your to-do list. But, good luck getting that task complete, unless you have a plan to…

2. Prioritize

Don’t get me wrong, if that task is “call Mom re: blender” or something equally quick and easy, I’m sure it will get crossed off your to-do list. The problem is the bigger, tougher priorities, that tend to keep getting REwritten on tomorrow’s to-do lists. And what about long term goals like “write book” or “lose weight”? What are the odds of crossing those off your checklist? Do you ever feel like you’ve got so much going on that you can’t start ANYTHING for fear of not doing something else that may be even MORE important? You need an easy plan to prioritize your to-dos, that you won’t find in a traditional to-do list.

3.Compel to Action

You might think I would show a photo of a to-do list with this post, but the reason I am showing a closed notebook is because, that is what I typically find in clients’ homes. Like everything else, we don’t want to see our to-do’s. Sometimes the notebooks have pretty covers, but, shockingly, that doesn’t help. Yes it’s good to have most things out of sight, out of mind, but your to-do’s need to be in one place, pared down, and highly visible, in order to be as compelling as possible. If you’ve got your top priorities down to a small manageable number, then you are giving yourself the best odds to TAKE ACTION!

The traditional to-do list only accomplishes step one. Essentially, there’s a place for entry, but no plan for retrieval. In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

I’ve written on several occasions about my systems to prioritize and compel to action, so now I’d love to hear, what works for you?