How to Finish All the Items on Your To-Do List

With the fast pace of modern life and the go-go-go, always-on work culture, it’s easy to get to the end of the day and feel like you didn’t accomplish anything. Heck, sometimes you get to the end of a busy day and you can’t even figure out what you actually did all day. This simple exercise will help you re-establish control and keep yourself in gear and ready to hustle!

  1. Get out a stack of index cards and a favorite writing instrument.
  2. Write all the things in your head that your brain nags you about when you’re just trying to live your damn life. (It’s best if you write one per card.) Budget at least thirty minutes for this. Completeness is important.
  3. Now it’s time to process those cards. Are they something actionable? If so, visualize in your mind what it would look like for that task to be done. Jot down a few concrete tasks on each card. Try to use language that starts with a verb and contains all the information you’ll need to actually accomplish the task, e.g. “Pick up dry cleaning from Rip’s Cleaners, which are open M–F from 7:00–18:00.”
  4. Now take those actions from each of the cards and sort them by “context,” a fancy word for where you need to be to do those things.
  5. Fuck…Doesn’t this feel overwhelming and stupid? You don’t really want to do this, do you?
  6. You are not the sum of how many things you’ve checked off a to-do list. You have value as a person without regard for how much you produce and accomplish.
  7. That constant, low-grade anxiety that you’re not doing enough and they’re all going to find out soon and you’ll be revealed as a fraud? That’s the voice of the boss in your head.
  8. You have to kill the boss in your head. The revolution is at hand, comrade!
  9. Throw out all those index cards, and do something you’ll truly enjoy. If you’re stuck and can’t think of something, I recommend burning the index cards for entertainment.

Key Takeaways

  • You’re already good enough, and I love you.
  • To-Do lists are a tool of capitalist oppression.