Does your to-do list grow like Topsy?


If you’re like me, your to-do list seems to grow faster than you can ever hope to complete even a fraction of the items on it.

It gets more like a bucket list of those 101 things to do before some significant age or date or whatever. You know the ones – they’re the books you get for someone else’s birthday or Christmas and there’s maybe 2 or 3 things that you can relate to and the rest fall into the “that’s nice” category but never make it any further.

The weird thing is that I know that’s happening but that doesn’t seem to stop me from adding stuff to it. Kind of a good idea because items on a list are better than items buzzing around my head, waiting to be overlooked or to pop up at the least convenient moments like waking up in the middle of the night. If you’ve ever spent a restless night with ideas keeping you awake, that’s probably a good signal that you need to put them onto paper so your mind can relax.

And it is nice to be able to cross one or two of the things off the list every now and then.

But the trouble is that the handful that get crossed off are heavily outnumbered by the additions.

There’s no easy answer that I’ve come up with apart from starting a new piece of (increasingly messy) paper every once in a while and transferring a few of the items that are still important onto the new sheet.

I tried using a spreadsheet – my preferred method of storing lists of all sorts of things because I can move them around easily, add a “sort” column, highlight different things as different colours and generally make the list user friendly.

But that grew way too long too fast.

Because the problem I have – and maybe you’re the same – is that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything crossed off.

I suspect that applies to a lot more people than would care to admit it.

All those TV programs on your hard drive or subscription service. The ones that get deleted before you go on holiday to free up enough space for the new stuff that will get recorded for you to maybe watch.

All the people you’ve said “later” to or planned to meet up for lunch or coffee or at least do more than exchange a Christmas card once a year with a message saying we really must meet up next year. Every year.

All the emails you and your list get that go basically unread and unacted on.

And we haven’t yet got an Electric Monk to believe the umpteen ideas on our behalf – a very neat concept from Douglas Adams and one that might save a lot of people a lot of money if such a device existed. We could get it to read all those sales letters for a start.

To-do lists do the same thing.

So often, they give us a list of things that aren’t going to happen in this lifetime.

There are lots of systems out there to tame them – prioritising into urgent/important/not urgent/not important quadrants is one that I teach more than I practice; picking off the biggest task first works but needs courage because it’s easy to spend all your time on the host of smaller tasks and then not have room for the elephant in the room task so it gets put off until tomorrow. Every day.

No easy answer.

But step one is recognising that your to-do list is forever expanding. Maybe it learned that trick from the universe although I hope it’s not infinite in size, it just seems that way sometimes.

Step two is working out your own way of dealing with it.

Whether that’s starting over with a clean sheet of paper like I do (usually when the previous sheet has no room for extra things).

Or investing in a system that claims to work and that may or may not work for you. Filofax made a very nice business of that, superseded by the various options on our phones nowadays.

Or anything else that gets you closer to your internet marketing goals.

Sorry this is a bit inconclusive but it’s something that bugs me every now and then (again, usually when that piece of paper is filled to overflowing) and I keep thinking “there must be a better way”, whether or not that’s true.

Partly it’s because you need to work out your own system for getting things done.

Unless you’re in a particularly intense job, it’s unlikely anyone will be standing over you and prioritising your work for you. Sure, that could happen if you’re flipping burgers but if you’re aiming to run your own business, chances are that you’re your own boss and effectively have no-one to answer to apart from those voices in your head.

One thing I like to do is get at least something from the list done early in the day – even if it’s not actually on the list.

For instance, emails to my list, blog posts like this one and recording videos are often amongst the first things I do almost every day.

They’re not on the to-do list because they’re part of my everyday routine.

But they need to happen.

Until that kind of thing becomes habit, maybe it’s worth keeping a separate list of essential daily habits to grow your business.

Take a step back and figure out what could work for you.

Then test it, modify it over time if necessary.

But do it!

If you’d like more help to do just that, my Internet Marketing Super Vault has lots and lots of helpful advice to get your internet marketing career moving in the right direction.

And if you’ve got any helpful tips for keeping your to-do list manageable, feel free to add them in the comments below.