A non-growing to-do list

We all know what’s the problem with to-do lists: They grow bigger and bigger every day. Few months in, and you’ll end up with a long list you may never complete in your lifetime.

Seeing such a list every day will be exhausting for you and your mental health. That’s why I deliberately keep my to-do list as small as possible. At the time of writing this, my work to-do list is 20 tasks, with 5 recurring tasks. My personal to-do list is 39 tasks, with 25 recurring tasks. My work list never goes beyond 25 tasks and my personal list never beyond 50 tasks (usually when doing groceries). Knowing these limits keeps me at ease whenever I open my to-do app.

How do I do it? Two steps:

  1. Review the list weekly (usually Sunday before sleep)
  2. Heartless deletion

The first part is easy to explain. Every week, I go over my to-do list and see if I need to update something. That’s why it’s good to have a small list so you can go over it quickly.

But the second part is what really makes this process worth it. Don’t get attached to your tasks. If the task doesn’t make sense anymore, delete it. If you’re not excited about it, delete it. If no date is attached to it, delete it. If you are not sure about it, spend some time thinking about it, and then either delete it or commit to it. Keep your list small at all costs.

My to-do list is sacred. Unlike a calendar where anyone can add anything, and at any time. I’m the only person adding stuff to my to-do list.

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