How to make the perfect “to-do” list?
Everybody has a way of compiling they’re own “to-do” list. Some color code. Other glue post-its. Other use apps. Engineers and project managers love writing endless list on whiteboards. No one seems to be able to update and actually get anything done, but it feels good to have a long list of tasks on the wall (and make your superiors feel you are busy at work).
While these are all nice techniques, they all have the same basic falsity- they list multiple items, and focus on recording open tasks rather than on their completion.
But what eventually happens is that you spend time every day crafting your near-perfect list, cross some items off (hopefully) and copy it to the next page to serve as a reminder for tomorrow. And while I’m all for rigorously recording your tasks and your traction in completion them, the real challenge is not to list everything you must do, but to identify the one important task that you simply cannot afford not to complete today.
Make it a “Task” list. Record all the open tasks elsewhere. Spend the time and mental effort in identifying one (ok, you are allowed to list between 0ne- three items) that if you don’t accomplish today your tomorrow will suffer. This one task can be as specific as completing and posting this blog post today or a more generic, managerial task such as “make sure everyone on the team is aligned with the new product strategy/ release schedule”. And make sure you don’t go home until you’ve completed that task. If you ask Peter Thiel, he will tell you that this tactic should actually be the strategic way you should manage your company- making each employee focus on one task only, excelling and completing it flawlessly. And while this strategy can be overwhelming for how most organization and people mange themselves, it makes sense on a most basic level- get the important things done, the rest will take care of itself.
Originally published at owntrepreneurship.com on July 9, 2015.