To-Do Lists

The To-Do list is an unexceptional management tool.  Everyone does one and it allows several good things to happen:

  • Hard to forget things
  • Easy to prioritize things
  • Feels good as you catch up
  • Motivates you as you fall behind

Nonetheless, it is a trap.

To-Do lists are action oriented.  As such, they tend to be logistical or sometimes tactical.  They are never strategic.  The trap is described by:

“The urgent is seldom important and the important is seldom urgent”

No one has a to-do list with these on it:

  • Be a contributing and useful person
  • Be happy
  • Live a fulfilled life
  • Teach my children to be functioning adults.
  • Love my spouse
  • Grow as a person

That second list probably matters more than:

  • Pick up dry cleaning
  • Pay phone bill and
  • Call Bill about lunch Tuesday

Yet I know of no one with such a list.

There is another list that I think is important.  It is the “Never Do” list.  Worth thinking through what should be on it.

It is easy to become tactically and logistically involved.  There is nothing wrong with that, it helps keep the day-to-day of life flowing.  Just make sure that you know your strategy and have made it the driving force in your life.  If you don’t, you will soon reach, “We are hopelessly lost but making good time.”

Strategy matters most, at least until you have a good one.  Once you do the to-do list will help you bring it to life.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

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