How to Trim Your To-Do List

May 29, 2022

Every now and then, I find myself in a ruthless mood. Towards my to-do list, that is.

See, if you’re like me, over the months (and perhaps years) you’ve accumulated lots of to-dos that you don’t actually want to do. For example:

  • Organize old vacation photos
  • Review sales funnel analytics
  • Invite so-and-so over for dinner
  • Put this or that up for sale

When I see these tasks during my weekly review, I usually think, “oh yeah, right, I’ll get to that someday”. Except that someday never arrives. I literally never feel like doing these tasks. And I feel guilty about that! After all, these are to-dos, so I should do them, right?

I could force myself to work on these tasks, but I feel immense resistance to that. In fact, I’m not even sure whether I could force myself to, but let’s say I could—I wouldn’t enjoy it and it would sap my willpower reserve. So I don’t.

But you know what? I’m fine without completing these tasks! I am very happy with my life right now. Each week, I don’t do these tasks and I still feel like I had a great week. There’s no reason to consider these things as “to do”. Still, most of the time I can’t bring myself to delete these tasks. The guilt is strong.

That’s I love feeling ruthless from time to time. When I sink into that ruthless mood, it’s easy to delete the to-dos I’ll never get to anyway. Delete, delete, delete. No guilt, just relief.

For me, the ruthless mood (towards my to-do list) often comes when I feel especially good about my progress towards my goals. It comes when everything is on track and I’m feeling confident. Then I can circumvent that guilt and trim my to-do list.

So pay attention to your emotions. When the right mood strikes, take advantage and cut that to-do list down to size. Then enjoy that sweet, sweet feeling of freedom and relief.

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