The Power of the Might-Do List

I’m lazy. That’s not me bathing in self-pity, that’s simply a fact of life. The question I’m thinking about lately is: “Does that mean that I also have to be unproductive?” – I don’t think so and here’s why:

Most of us have done it in some shape or form: Writing down a To-Do list. You might have used a fancy app like Microsoft To-Do (formerly known as Wunderlist) or the reminder app on your phone. Some might even have used pen and paper. I’ve done all of that. I’ve done it again and again. Do I get stuff done? Yes. Some of it. Does the rate at which things get done decay over time? Every time! Let’s have a look at what’s happening.

The human brain is for having ideas – not for holding them

David Allen – Author of Getting Things Done

I’ve come across this fact by listening to Ali Abdaal. I then quickly realized that this is the reason I’ve been dumping everything that I can think of on a To-Do list. I feel liberated when I do that because I don’t have to remember the thing. It’s safe on my list. Great. Well… for some time. What happens to me every time? And apparently to most – if not all people? The List grows faster than things get done. Then the guilt roles in. “I should have accomplished more today, this week, this month!” This escalates to a point where I dread even looking at the infinitely long list of things that I didn’t do. At some point, I “declare to-do bankruptcy”. Scrub the list and start over with some other tool. In this Wired article Clive Thompson dives deep into the psychology behind all that.

So how can we not do that? One nice system to trick yourself into dealing with that comes from Ali Abdaal:

Think of it as a Might-Do List

Just by changing that perspective it, all the sudden, doesn’t seem so intimidating. Can you feel that? I still put all the things on my Might-Do list. I mark one thing that I really want (or have to) do today as my daily highlight and the rest I might do.
When I look back on my day and have done just my daily highlight. I feel good about it. Just try it for a few days. You will feel relieved. At least for me most of the time, a lot more than just that one thing gets done.
Yes, we still need some good techniques to sort the list. We will examine that some other time.

What do you think about this concept? Can you relate? Are you like me? Have you tried the might-do-list and had some success? Hit me up on Twitter or consider subscribing to my email newsletter below.