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Why I Break Up Task Lists

Tags: tasks • Categories: Productivity

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I’ve been using Todoist for a couple months now. It’s a great implementation of the Getting Things Done system. I highly recommend both.

However, using a robust task manager doesn’t eliminate the trappings of a yellow legal pad: pages of tasks and ideas without context or prioritization.

The lists can still get out of control. As a type-A personality, I love creating tasks and crossing them off a list: the temptation to constantly grow my task list doesn’t go away with a robust task management system. It only gets worse.

Less Than Ten

You can only do so much in a day. I’m optimistic. I enjoy looking at the day and imagining all that I can accomplish.

But, I can only do 10 tasks a day. I’ve tracked, tested, and analyzed this. My ten things might be composed of a couple large tasks and a couple quick phone calls, but it doesn’t matter. On average, my limit is ten tasks a day.

And although it might be nice to think I can do more, 90% of the time, it’s not possible.

If I were to guess, you probably work the same way.

Keep it Short, Get to Zero.

Don’t be unrealistic with your output. It’s important that you keep your list short and realistic. Be sure you can actually cross off every single thing you put on your list. If you don’t, you’ll feel like you’ll never win. The feeling of always being behind and being “too busy” will haunt you.

Getting to zero will give you a victory. Wins create momentum.

Keep your list short. Keep it specific. Make the items actionable, tactical, and break them up into smaller tasks if they can’t all be done in one sitting.