You Need a Productivity Breakthrough

OK – I admit that I have a fetish for to do lists. Not that I’m that detailed, but I love working with apps that help me sort and organize my to do lists. My two favorites are Things and Wunderlist. I’m a big fan of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” concept, but I have one big problem with it: I’m a big idea person, so I’m always coming up with things I should do, films I should make, client tasks, and more. So I looked at my to do list recently and it had 783 items on it.

Yikes! It was overwhelming. When I look at that crushing list, I just shut down. It’s depressing. I get nothing done. So the other day something hit me that was a revelation and I think it might help you. When I looked at my 783 items on my to do list, I realized that the vast majority weren’t actual to do’s, they were ideas. They weren’t actually things I need to do anytime soon, they were ideas of things I could do in the future.

So I edited my to do list into actual “actionable steps” versus “creative ideas.” When I did that, my to do list became much more manageable and realistic.

We all have “ideas,” but don’t confuse that with actionable steps I need to take today or tomorrow. Big difference. A 783 item to do list will only make you want to jump off a cliff. But if you understand the difference between a to do list, and an idea list, then your future looks brighter.

What do you think? Is it time to edit your list?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Rick Wilson

    This is really valuable.  Though I’m not at the hundreds “to do list” level (dozens more like it) – I’m also challenged in the getting things done mode – never thought of breaking it down like this.  GOOD STUFF!!

    • Thanks Rick.  I now have my “ideas” in a different folder and it makes a HUGE difference.

  • Amber Benson

    Highly recommend Scott Belsky’s book Making Ideas Happen–a great way of looking at productivity for creative types. 

  • I’m with Amber – Scott Belsky’s ‘Making Ideas Happen’, along with Action Method, is helping me to see the difference between ideas and actions; then of course to take action…

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