Behavioral Science

Long Lists are Clutter

by . November 24th, 2014

Have you ever looked to the older documents of your notebook or wherever you keep notes, and found a long and ambitious list you were never really able to scratch?

Long Lists thesis
Just as you need to have tiny victories as you work, you need to shorten your to-do lists. Otherwise, your life is going to be filled with what-ifs and could-haves. You modify them, make them easier or more vague, and check out items you’ve eluded yourself to thinking you’ve completed.

As you create more and more goals for yourself, you end up giving yourself a ton of things you have not yet done. And over time, that’s going to rot and make you feel bad. You’ll feel stressed over them, get depressed as you give them up, then regret your past as you reminisce.

And most long lists don’t get done because you spread yourself thin. When you’ve stuffed yourself with so many things to do, it doesn’t matter if you set them in a straight line. It’s still clutter.

But sometimes, you do need to do all that stuff. What do you do then?

Clump them into smaller lists. Sort them in a way that makes sense to you. Give different levels of priority to each list. Don’t make any equally as important than another. Then grab one and forget the rest for another time. As you finish each task, you move faster towards your goals. You move 10% instead of 1.

Yeah. You still have a lot of stuff to do, but at least now you can focus and think of the few things that matter at this second, than think of the other stuff you’ve saved for next week.

Divide problems. Outline them. Make them easier to understand. Then they aren’t problems anymore.