Optimize, don't Organize: Part 4

Over the next week I will be giving out 7 (unedited) excerpts from an eBook I have in the works called Optimize, don't Organize. This is slightly less pretty than the eBook and doesn't contain any of the nice pictures or diagrams....but, as they say, you get what you pay for. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so by all means leave me some comments at the bottom of this page or contact me at [email protected] or even Twitter @alandownie

Start at Part 1 of Optimize, don't Organize here

4. What’s the worst that can happen?

So what if you forget? What’s the worst that will happen? Do you really need to remember everything? Consider this before you add something to your todo list.

If it’s important, someone else will remind you.

In reality, there isn’t much you’ll need to remember that someone else isn’t also remembering. That’s not to say you should just become an unreliable slob, but it does mean if you DO forget something, someone will most likely let you know. I wouldn’t plan my life around forgetting everything, but it is a reality that you can get away with not trying to remember every little detail. The more important something is, the more people you’ll have knocking on your door for it. If you’re being reminded constantly about doing something, writing it down isn’t going to help you any more.

If it’s not important, why are you prioritising it?

A todo list is a list of things that you really MUST do. If it’s not a must, it shouldn’t be on your list. The quickest way to kill a list is to fill it with things you really have no intention of ever doing. If you add every little thing to it, you’ll quickly end up with a MAYBEDO list, not a TODO list. Nobody wants a MAYBEDO list; it just sounds stupid.

It’s important to you.

This is the one and only item that should be on your todo list. Your list is about you. That doesn’t mean you should fill your list with Golf, Video Games and Beer. Sometimes things that are important to you aren’t necessarily fun, but they still need to get done. If your list only has things which YOU find important on it, you’ll be far more motivated to tick things off. As soon as you hit an item that is for someone else, your list will fail. If it’s for someone else, let them put it on their list. However, buying flowers for your wife may be FOR her, but it’s still in YOUR best interests. The key here is that if you forget something on your own list, there will be no one to remind you, and you’ll only screw yourself over. The problem will be all yours. If that’s the case, put it on your list.


Coming up:

5 - The better way to prioritize.
6 - Why task lists don't work.
7 - Sticky notes, and why they rock.