To Do List

As someone who has tried almost every self help strategy/angle out there, I have a fairly good understanding of most of them and have learned from personal experience what works and doesn’t work.  Here is perhaps one of the simplest I’ve tried and it works for me every day.  It is a to do list.  Most people use to do lists in some way or another.  I my approach to this was suggested to me in a book by Hung Pham, one of my favorite self help authors.  Please check out his books if you have not already.  Each day when I sit down at the computer, I create a short, 3 item list of things I want to get done that day.  Instead of going in to a lot of detail and outlining my entire day step by step, I distil my goals in to 3 simple statements.  To most of you, it would seem that I am setting the bar pretty low.  Just 3 things?  Why not try and get 10 done.  Here is the logic.  Creating a large list tends to result in negative feelings about your ability to reach your goals.  Any interruption to  your schedule and you fail to complete some of your  items.  Then these items get pushed to the next day and you end up with another un-doable list.  The cycle repeats and repeats with you never reaching an end point or a time when you feel you have succeeded.  This is not good in the way it makes you feel and results in lower productivity in the long run.  The best strategy by far is to start with a notecard, post-it or as I do, Tomboy Notes in Linux.  Write down 3 tasks that you know you can complete that day.  Don’t be too general or specific.  Try to stay somewhere in the middle.  A good rule is to choose things that will take between 10 minutes and 2 hours each.  Try to list things that are not every day tasks.  Like for example, “go to work” on your list every day is not something for your list.  These need to be things that you intend to accomplish in addition to what you normally do.  Choose things that are critical to your well being and personal advancement.  “Go to the dmv and register the car”  is a good one.  “Watch video on Backbone.js and try some examples” is also good.  Keep your list handy so that you can easily refer to it all day.  Regularly return to it as even with just 3 items it is easy to forget about it as you go through your day.  When you complete items, draw a line through them or annotate on your computer with DONE.  You will be surprised how keeping to this short list every single day will add to your over all productivity.  I hope the 3 things list is as helpful to you as it has been to me.  It is a good habit and good habits make successful people.


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