The One Item To-Do List

To-Do ListLately, I’ve had a bit of trouble focusing on my to-do list outside of my “9 to 5” job.  I often find myself creating these massive to-do lists that never seem to go away.  I’ll come up with a to-do list today of ten items and only get through three.  Then tomorrow, I’ll have another 7 item to-do list, and the items begin to pile up.

For the most part, these items are never crucial.  They’re things I’d like to do (generally related to my muses/making money online), but if I never get to them, it’s not the end of the world.  I even try to trick myself by prioritizing items that are less critical, but more interesting to me.

At the end of the day, the to-do list is overwhelming, and I spend more time managing the list than actually crossing items off.

Starting today, I’m going to utilize a one item to-do list.  Each day, I will list one item that must be completed.  I will focus all of my energy on completing that one item.  Generally, it will be something substantial (i.e. not something minor such as “reply to e-mail” or “go grocery shopping”).

If I complete that one item, which I always should, then I can spend the rest of the day relaxing or adding another item to the list to knock off that same day.  The key is that in any given moment, I have one to-do item on my mind.  The objective is to tighten my focus on each task, and to lose the feeling of the overwhelming to-do list that I come across quite frequently.

I’m not sure if this will work or if it’s practical, but it’s something I’m going to try.  I’m sure I’ve read of this technique somewhere else, but can’t place my finger on it.

What do you think – can this work for me? What works for you?  Share it in the comments.

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4 Responses to “The One Item To-Do List”

  1. I personally write down 3 action items I need to complete the next day and make sure I knock them out. I can see why you’re only putting one item down — it can be overwhelming if you have 7+ items on the list. I find 3 to be my magic number.


  2. Tony, I also define my 3 daily important items I must complete. There are easy days, when I have just 1 or 2 tasks, but I don’t accept more than 3 must tasks. 7 are too many, Eric and multitasking is not a good option in my experience.


  3. @ Tony – 3 action items seems to be a good amount. I’ll probably work up to that. Right now though, I’ll start with one (even though I will probably – hopefully – get through 2 or 3 items at the very least).


  4. @ Florin – I know, 7 is an overwhelming amount. My problem was that I was listing random things that I want to do, but don’t need to do. I also agree that multitasking is generally more distracting than anything, but I think it works in certain situations (usually with non-work related things).


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