Due Dates Can Be Killing Our Effectiveness

todo today

So that we don’t let a task to fall off of our radar, we mark it with a date. We read an email or look at a note and think, “Oh, yes. This is important. I want/have to do this. I will do it today.” Or we may mark it for tomorrow or next week.

Should we repeat this process with the rest of our notes and emails, we can quickly end up with more on our list for today than we can actually complete.

“No problem,” we say. “I can move whatever I don’t get done today to tomorrow.” With all of those tasks and whatever comes from tomorrow’s notes and emails, we are digging ourselves quite a hole. Soon our list of tasks is packed with things that are “due today” and that turned out to be not as important as we had first thought.

The problem starts with that fear of forgetting something. The solution is having a system we trust.

What if we trusted that our list of tasks was up to date and accurate enough? And that everything on the list was cleanly and clearly defined as an actual, doable task (not an amorphous, cryptic, undigested blob like, “re: Smithington report”)? What if our list of tasks aligned with our goals not-yet-ready-and-may-never-be-ready tasks were shunted to a back burner list? What if we could, anytime, quickly scan our main list of tasks and quickly pick the next best thing for us to work on?

Then we wouldn’t worry about forgetting any tasks. And we wouldn’t subject ourselves to the tyranny of an ever growing “holy-*%#$-everything-is-due-today” list.


In your corner,


PS: Same goes for marking things urgent or priority.

PPS: There are two good reasons to mark a task with a due date. If we have committed to getting something done for someone by a certain date, then reminding ourselves of that commitment with a due date makes sense. We can also select, each day, the one thing that we most want to accomplish. “If I get this one task done today, I will call today a success. Better mark it ‘due today.'”


Today’s photo credit: Courtney Dirks via photopin cc

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