I worked for this agency and we were building out a website for a client and the client had all these requests for new features and updated designs and blah blah blah and every time he made a request he ended his sentence with “...is that something you guys can do?”
One day in our weekly meeting, the client asked for everything under the sun...all followed with his patented “is that something you guys can do?” ending. My buddy had the perfect response to this:
“We can do anything, we can’t do everything”
I thought it was such a good line and encapsulates how we approach a lot of problems. We always want to solve for everything. A problem is something that needs to solve. So for every problem we see, we feel the need to solve it. And we want to solve every single last one.
But that inherently creates a problem - too much to solve. And you’ll never get everything done.
But that doesn’t stop most from writing everything down and trying to get everything done. I used to track all the things I wanted to get done and try to do everything. Of course, I never got everything done and most of the things I did get done were done halfway.
Just Because It’s On Your To-Do List Doesn’t Mean It Has To Get Done
This is important to wrap your head around to make sure you approach your to-do list the right way.Most people think the point of a to-do list is to get everything done. It’s not.
Repeat: You do not have to get everything done on your to-do list!
*phew* if I had to get everything done I would still be working on tasks from 5 years ago.
The goal of a to-do list is to add clarity to your life, organize your thoughts and actions, and make sure you focus on the right things. Just because you write something down doesn’t mean you have to get it done. Isn't that a relief? I loved when this lesson really sunk in because I write EVERYTHING down!
The point of a to-do list is to help you work on the right things, not everything
Try A Running List
When you write everything down, those aren't to-do items; they’re items for you to determine if they are to-do's and then you organize them accordingly.
I usually keep a running list of all the things I want/should/need/could do. All the ideas that pop in my head I keep there. It’s actually several lists organized by category.
Every 2 weeks or so, I go through it and remove items I thought were a good idea or aren’t important anymore. I’ll organize it by priority moving more urgent tasks up higher in the list and less urgent ones lower in the list.
I’ll then moves items from that list into my real to do list. It’s like this Running list is really all the things I’m considering doing. They haven’t made the cut yet. Not until I move them into my actual to do list.
This process helps me keep track of everything but only commit to what I can do. I can at least flirt with doing everything, but I only commit to what’s going to help me achieve my goals.
Give it a try next time you put together a to-do list!