Your Never-Ending To-Do List

by | Nov 16, 2023 | General Productivity

Takeaway: Your to-do list, with its ever-changing mix of tasks, will never be completely cleared, so it’s more important to master the art of prioritizing and staying present with what matters most rather than stressing over an endless list of tasks.

 Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute, 22s.

Today, there are about 100 things on my to-do list, a mix of mundane and monumental.

And at the risk of getting morbid, five or six decades from now (let’s knock on wood for good measure), there will probably be around 100 things on this list. At all different priority levels. Some easy, some hard. Some slow, some fast. Some individual, some collaborative. Some to get done today, some to get done tomorrow.

Looking back, it has always been this way. The number of tasks varies depending on the month (my work has seasons). But even in retirement, I’ll probably have a list of about 100 things. The same list of all the different balls I’m juggling—some made of rubber, some made of glass.

We often work urgency, convincing ourselves that if we hustle so hard, for so long, and at a quick enough speed, our to-do list will finally be clear. We’ll finally be free.

The good and bad news is that you’ll never get there. When it comes to your to-do list, the finish line will always be a bit beyond your reach. There have always been things on your to-do list, and there always will be.

This means the number of items on your to-do list isn’t worth stressing over.

Prioritize your tasks just enough to identify what’s most important in each moment. (Productivity books and websites help with this.) And then cultivate a profound presence with what’s most important. (A calm mind helps for this.)

Remember: it’s not about clearing the list. It’s about mastering the art of prioritizing it all.

It’s not worth stressing over something that will never get done.

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of three books: How to Calm Your Mind, Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in more than 40 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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