Why a To Do List Should be One Task Long
Once I got into college I began making to do lists almost every day. At the beginning of each semester I created a list for each of my classes with due dates on them. I took the syllabus and wrote down in order everything that would be turned in throughout the semester. It felt great to do this and I was able to avoid missing deadlines, but I didn’t end up completing projects any earlier than usual. I would almost always just wait until the day or two before to start the project. My to do list was too long when I looked at it that I would just toss it aside and go do something else instead. Since college ended over a thousand days (and a thousand to do lists) ago I’ve come to the realization that focusing on just one major goal for the day is how I can make significant progress in my life. By just taking baby steps each day you can reach huge goals over the course of a month, year and life. Why not spend just an hour a day for 28 years, reach 10,000 hours of practice and become an expert at what you are passionate about? Just one task a day can make a huge impact on your life.
When you focus on too many things to accomplish in one day you may end up not finishing any. Create a system where you can always store potential or pending tasks in a single place, but only pick one thing at a time to actually do. Single tasking is the most important productivity principle there is. By placing all of your attention on one thing at a time allows you to:
- Minimize Mistakes
- Complete Tasks Faster
- Higher Quality Results
- Relieve Stress
- Avoid Fighting Fires
A Month at a Time
Write down anything you can think of wanting to accomplish in the next month. Reach deep and pull out what you have been putting off for far too long. Once you have everything written down, prioritize the tasks based on importance. Next, print off a plain blank calendar and write the tasks down on it in order from the most important on today’s box to the least important one. Another option is just to write the dates down the side of a page in a notebook like the top image of my moleskin.
Commit to one task only per day. If you have so many tasks that you run out of days in the month don’t double up. Decide what’s most important and do just those things. Is anyone, including yourself, really going to care if you don’t complete your 32nd most important task?
Each day start off by looking at this calendar you created. Vow to yourself (and others if you want accountability) that even if you do nothing else ALL day, you will complete this one task. Don’t leave work, go to bed or go out for a drink until you complete this task. Anything you do above and beyond this task is great too, but only if you finish what you planned for that day.
If you stick to this kind of mentality you can accomplish a ton in a month. I’ve been writing on Pocket Changed for just over 10 weeks and I have created consistent content, a page for recommended affiliate products, done a complete site redesign, built a Facebook page, and much more. If I would have just listed all of the things I needed to do on my blog it would have been endless and would have overwhelmed me. I just listed what was most important to me at the moment and focused on one thing at a time.
Pick one thing for the day, write it down and accomplish it.