Ladies and gents, I present to you:
The rumpled, half-crossed to-do list.
Soft as tissue. Delicate. Has spent time in a folder, a purse, a pocket. Fuzzy edges. Good intentions. Lost. Found. Forgotten. Silent, subtle anxiety.
Almost romantic, huh?
Maybe you have the digital version. Some fancy-pants color-coded ding-beep gadgetry purchased with great excitement whose use has…waned.
What happens to all those ignored to-dos?
Some vanish; they become irrelevant, or absorbed by someone or something else.
But the others — the lurkers — they wait for you. Some beg, some nag, some erode. They all leach. Your un-dones will zap your energy, momentum, and focus. The only thing to do is zap them back. Here’s how:
1. Make an “incomplete list.”
As simple as it sounds, everything that feels incomplete to you goes on the list. Sometimes things that you normally wouldn’t think of as to-dos pop up. Good. Put them on the list. It might look like this:
- return emails
- oil change
- the living room – needs a coffee table?
- apologize for missing Sara’s bday
- throw out gross leftovers
- mail printer warranty
- plant new herbs
- get shoes that match brown skirt
2. Issue pardons.
Look over your list. Is there anything that really doesn’t need to be done? You told yourself you would plant new herbs, but now it doesn’t feel important? Cross it off; if you can release it from the list with a clear conscience, do.
3. Do the 5 jive.
Circle all the tasks that you can do in 5 minutes or less, and set aside some time to burn through those tasks. Done and done!
4. Abide the 48 hour rule.
For each remaining task, make a note of what you could do in the next 48 hours to get the ball rolling. Could be get stamps so you can mail your warranty, put the shirt in your car so you can take it shopping with you, or schedule an oil change. If you take a little action now, you’re more likely to follow up soon.
5. Commit to completion.
Vow to eliminate this list. Give yourself a reasonable time frame based on the length of your list and the time you can allot to it. Do your best to release or complete every. single. thing. by your goal date.
6. Enjoy a clear head and a clean conscience!
Are you ready to experience life without backlog? Ahhhh. Breathe easy.
What’s on your incomplete list?
Let us know we’re not alone in the comments!