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I don’t have a to-do list, I have a will-do list

By September 3, 2016September 30th, 2016Musings


When I hear people say they have a to-do list, I cringe, because most items on a to-do list never get tuh-dun.

That’s because a to-do list is rarely prioritized. It’s just a random compilation of all the things that need to get done, with no rhyme or reason, no timeline, no delineation of what’s important, and what’s not.

Plus, to-do lists are often self-defeating. When something on the list doesn’t get done, as is often the case, it simply sits dormant on a piece of paper, as it sadly watches other items added to the list. A proverbial never-ending story. The to-do item that got listed on Monday is, by Friday when unattended, shouting out: “Hey! What about me? When are you going to get to me?”

I’m an advocate of a will-do list. The word “will” can be defined as “the mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action”.

A will-do list is a powerful motivator, because it means a decision’s been made. Once the decision is made, steps in the direction of goal attainment follow much more easily.

But the will-do list alone is just a first step. To add more power to the decision, the will-do’s should be couched in terms of:

“I will do _____ on (this date).

By making this decision, I’m committed to (completing/ accomplishing/ finishing/ starting/…whatever the action is) on the date I identified.

The only thing that will take me off course is an unavoidable, higher priority circumstance or issue, or an emergency.

When I say I will-do, I’m already picturing in my mind the satisfaction and results I’ll gain from having committed to a particular action and outcome. I literally see and feel the results that my commitment will bring to me.”

Are you trapped in to-do’s? Do you feel overwhelmed by an ever burgeoning list of things to do?

Another downside to to-do lists is that they’re often very tactical, and quite often list things that might need to get done, but are not high priority.

¬†Stephen Covey’s¬†time management matrix delineates a quadrant of urgent, not urgent, important and not important, and you’ll find a great outline, illustrated with comics, here.

Unfortunately, many people spend too much time in the not urgent, not important quadrants.

So a good reminder is this: It’s important to schedule your priorities, not prioritize your schedule.

Make a commitment today to commit. Identify what you WILL do, by when, for what results. Then do it. Item number 1,374 on your old to-do list will thank you for it.

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