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A vacation from the endless lists

The “Not Insane” To-Do List @ AMERICAN DIGEST

LET’S FACE IT, we all have far too much to do. But the only reason this is so is because of the proliferation of productivity tools that respond to our insane lust to be “productive.” Driving this insanity is the To-Do list which is, being limitless, is unlimited in its ability to drive us insane. It’s time to stop the To-List insanity. Toss all you’ve previous To-Do Listing Systems you’ve got out — paper and/or electronic — and convert to this new, improved certifiably not-insane system.

Systems like Getting Things Done have gotten many of us into the habit of maintaining multi-page, contextual, cross-referenced lists of what we could be doing in a given day. And while I’m certainly not here to slag my “next actions,” I will confess that tending a theoretically unlimited list of verb phrases can start to feel like I’m entertaining a house full of ungrateful in-laws who won’t take the hint.

So, Gerard’s “invention”—very much in the conceptual spirit of the Hipster PDA, I’d say—addresses the “insanity” of a sprawling daily task list by forcing your ambitions south into reality. Pick the three things that you will do today, and then do them. That’s it.

Is it complete, pseudo-scientific, or cognitively gratifying in the same way that GTD can be? Hell, no. But it is a terrific concept for any day when you need a break from all your lists shouting at you—when you want to set aside “your system,” knock out some valuable work, and just go home.

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Marc's picture

Merlin - the two ideas...

Merlin - the two ideas aren't really mutually exclusive. At my company we have a "Top Three" meeting each week among the managers where we each pick three things we will absolutely get done that week. They're not the only three but they are the ones we are making a commitment will get done, no matter what, that week.

I've also taken to using a GTD category I call @Today. I apply it to items I am promoting to my task list for each day. Once something is tagged @Today and marked with today's due date, I do it that day - no exceptions. The discipline of making a commitment to myself to getting anything with this tag done that day makes me very cautious about applying it during my daily review every morning.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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