<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=3003101069777853&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

To-do lists: be careful about which business you leave unfinished

By Sam Instone - April 06, 2023

Here's a thought many won't like.

Your "to-do" list will never be finished.

We live in a culture obsessed with productivity.

There's constant pressure to produce more, be more efficient, optimise...

But at what cost?

When you look at your to-do list, how do you feel? Stressed, overwhelmed, or uneasy? Or excited and accomplished?

Many people love a to-do list. 

They get a direct dopamine hit when they cross something off. I know some people who write a completed task down just for the satisfaction of seeing that something has been completed. 

As a father of three, I constantly feel the push and pull of integrating family and career.

There are days when I'm super productive at work. At the end of those days, I'm tired but usually feel satisfied with my achievements.  

But in life, the most important things we do aren't written on a checklist.

Often we have the greatest impact happens when we stop and slow down.

The early days of the pandemic were the perfect example. 

I, like many, had to shift my expectations about what I could achieve from my professional list of tasks.

Instead I played with my kids, talked to my wife, read, cooked, and cycled indoors on my Peloton.

It was a time for people. Not work projects.

But to-do lists aren't just about tasks.

They're also about us asking ourselves, "Am I doing enough?"

If someone can't answer this in themselves, they might look at their list of jobs to provide reassurance.

But "doing" doesn't make anyone of us more important or worthy.

Simply "being" is enough.

If you don't believe this, you'll be exhausted trying to constantly achieve.

Of course, being organised and on top of our responsibilities is part of being a successful adult.

But don't confuse what's urgent with what's important.

Perhaps instead of doing more, productivity should be more about what has maximum impact.

You won't always get positive feedback right away. The most important things may feel thankless and unseen. Yet, over time, they strengthen our bodies, minds, and relationships. The Japanese call this kaizen. 

Change is hard. If it feels uncomfortable at first (especially after a lifetime of chasing exceptional results) you're probably doing something right. 

You will always have more to do.

But be careful about which business you leave unfinished. 

Who is really important? 

What will last? 

New call-to-action