A Never Ending To Do List

I used to work with a woman who loved to make lists. She created endless pages of everything that needed to be done, and more pages of things she and her team were working on.

At first, we were all in awe. She seemed so on-top of what would be required to succeed. However, our awe quickly turned into frustration as week after week she reported more additions to the list, but never seemed to complete anything. I will never forget the day our CEO stopped her as she rattled through another long list of to-dos.

He cleared his throat to get her attention and then he said, “I am sorry to interrupt, but please don’t overwhelm us with everything you think you have to do. We want to be overwhelmed by what you’ve finished.”

The room was quiet and so was she. Then the excuses started. They were as long as the list of to-do’s. A few weeks later she quit.

It was a great lesson to me. “We want to be overwhelmed by what you’ve finished” comes back to me again and again.

Months later I became a productivity consultant. Now, I spend my time teaching The 5 Choices of Productivity. These choices help me to remember that this life isn’t about getting hung up on all the things I should do. It is about choosing the most important things, aligning them with my highest priorities, and getting them done! Knowing the 5 Choices has freed me from the long lists I used to make.

Now I am more likely to set my sights on my most important “To-Do’s”, carving time and space into my schedule so I can accomplish them. I find great satisfaction in my smaller more targeted lists. These days, I’m not feeling overwhelmed. Instead, I feel on task. Working diligently to complete a few goals at a time makes me feel accomplished and energized.

Contributed by Suzette Blakemore, Regional Productivity Practice Leader, FranklinCovey

6 comments on “A Never Ending To Do List

  1. Great article!!! I have seen my mentor (My Manager) working on the list and succeeding!!!
    I am from Bangalor India and I am working to get some course or training to improve my self and to do things differently to reach the next level of life!!! FranklinCovey!!! Wonderful place to be and learn!!!
    All the very best!!!
    Lokesh Jayaram Reddy

  2. Excellent post, but it is easy to relate to the person with the growing to do list. In today’s business model of squeezing the duties of several people to one person, it is normal to have work just pile in. This is a good reminder to remain focused and get something, anything,done every day. Set your priorities and make certain it is a high impact item that is completed.

    • Bill, Thanks for your comment. You are right it is easy to have a growing list particularly if you are in an organization that is asking people to do more with less resources. I loved your last thought. “This is a good reminder to remain focused and get something, anything,done every day. Set your priorities and make certain it is a high impact item that is completed.” Even in high work load situations you can find energy in getting the most important things done.

      Thanks for reading and participating!

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