The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your To-Do List - Deepstash
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Decluttering a to-do list

Decluttering a to-do list

Your to-do list should be an extension of your mind. It's a way of storing away tomorrow's work so that you can focus on what you have to do today.

However, if we don't regularly tidy up our list, it can get cluttered. Instead of a reliable to-do list, it can become a cumbersome task in itself that cease to fulfil the function it was designed for. Learning from Marie Kondo, we can declutter our task list in a similar way she tidies physical belongings.

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Marie Kondo

"To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose."

MARIE KONDO

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Before you start, consider your destination

We can't know what is worth doing if we don't know where we are going.

  • Before touching any clutter, visualise what it would mean to have a clutter-free to-do list. Maybe you want to have a successful business, or get in shape.
  • Then identify why you want to get in shape or have a successful business. Write down your "why". This is what you will use to determine if a task is worth doing.
  • Break your vision down into several goals for each area of your life, and create a task for each.

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Discard first

Your to-do list may be stuffed with half-baked ideas, empty projects, and tasks you forgot to check off. Make a complete inventory of all the tasks and projects on your to-do list. Then see what you can delete. The purpose is to cut away the nonessential to make space for what's important to you now.

As you do your inventory, ask yourself:

  • Does this task bring you closer to the life you want to live?
  • Some items you have to keep, such as doing your taxes.
  • If you don't want to let go of long-standing tasks, such as writing a book, save it in a "Maybe later" file and archive it.

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Give every task a place

Now that you have the right tasks, it's time to sort and organize. Every task on your to-do list should be related to your goal.

  • Keep your projects visible. Seeing every project you've committed to keeps you from adding too many.
  • Sequence your tasks in a logical order before you get to work.
  • Add priorities. Some tasks are more important to your goal.
  • Give each task a due date. As a rule of thumb, estimate how long a task will take, then double it.
  • Ensure your to-do list sparks joy. Consider the wording, colour theme and emojis.

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Change your mindset first, then your habits

Once your task list is clear and aligned with your goals, take steps to keep it clear.

  • For every new task that comes to your to-do list, ask if it leads to your vision. If not, discard it immediately.
  • Unhelpful tasks will sneak in from time to time. Weed them out with a weekly review so you can start each week with a clearly prioritised to-do list.
  • Check in on your big-picture every few months.

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"Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time." ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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