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The troublesome thing about To Do lists is that there is really no organic limit to them. In order to get your tasks out of your head so you can see them, you need to write them somewhere and a To Do list is the most obvious place. But then your To Do list can include everything from: Call client about deliverable format to…..

  • Get oil changed
  • Come up with pitch for client I really want
  • Replace broken washing machine
  • Get groceries for the week
  • Start writing book
  • Get house painted
  • Start college fund for kindergartner

A To Do list can include things you need or want to do. But just plopping them all on a list becomes visually overwhelming. They need to be organized. For starters, I recommend breaking them into Next Actions and Future.

Of course, it’s easy to think that everything is a Next Action. You want to do it all. But just because something can be done now, doesn’t mean that it needs to be done now. When you review all of the things that you are tempted to put on your Next Actions list, ask yourself, “given everything else that’s important, is it realistic that I can or need to get to this anytime soon?” If you decide that it needs to be done, but realistically you would admit that it’s not pressing enough for you to be considering right now, then put it on your Future list. If you fear forgetting that it’s there, then simply create a reminder.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that you discover a great new sales technique in a book that you read, and you’d like to implement it. But when you assess your priorities, you realize that you really don’t have the opportunity to give that the attention it deserves for at least a couple of months. Add that item to your list with a category of Future, and add a reminder date of about 2 months from now. When the reminder pops up, reassess whether or not it will realistically fit into your workload in the next month or so. If it does, then change the category from Future to Next Actions. If it doesn’t, leave it with the Future category, change the reminder to another point in the future, and follow the same process when it pops up again.

This way, it’s neither stuck in your head nor constantly in your face. So you have more clarity and space to focus on what really needs to be done right now.

Thanks for reading!