Consolidate Your To-Do List With a Weekly Review

If your task list is scattered over numerous pages and you’re bogged down with too many items, use a weekly review to consolidate. Get-It-Done Guy explains how to cull your task lists, project lists, and someday/maybe lists into one streamlined master plan. 
Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #538

Prioritize Against Each Other

Since you’re reviewing everything that’s undone, you bring everything you could work on to mind at once. This makes it easy to remember all your priorities. You can make trade offs between different priorities. 

See also: Keep Your Priorities Close at Hand

If you’re seeing an item repeatedly (because you’ve copied it to the end of your list a couple dozen times), it's time to really consider the item. Is it still a priority, given what else is on your plate? Is there a reason why you're avoiding completing it but continue adding it to your list?  Be honest with yourself. Then commit one way or another: either take it off the list for good or give yourself a deadline by which to complete it. For example, “run for President” has been appearing on my list for years. Perhaps it's time to let the dream die.

Add Your Projects

Now that your list is scrubbed, shaved, and squishy clean (that sounds so much better than squeaky clean), make sure it’s complete. 

You’ve evaluated everything on the list against everything else. But you couldn’t consider anything that wasn’t already on the list. 

So now scan your current-projects list. Make sure that every project you have has at least one to-do item on your list. This is when you can rescue any projects that may have accidentally fallen through the cracks. If one of your projects doesn’t have any tasks on your list, and you don’t want to add one, it may be time to drop that project entirely. There’s no relief quite as pure as the relief you feel when you realize that you really don’t have to construct a life-sized replica of the Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks just because you once believed it was your calling. It’s OK. You had a moment of weakness. We understand.

Make Someday Now

Finish your to-do review by reviewing your Someday/Maybe list. That’s the list of things you’ve thought you would do someday. Drop anything off the list that is no longer a dream you want to pursue. And transfer anything whose time is now to your master to-do list. 

Someday holding an origami class in the mountains of Afghanistan? Not as attractive as you once thought. But that dream of traveling to the Andes to give a yak a haircut, in addition to a shave? The time is now. Write “Book Yak tickets” on the to-do list. And be thankful, without your weekly review, it could have been years before you pursued your Yak aspirations.

It’ll Get Easier Each Week

The first time you do a weekly review, it can take a while. But once you’ve cleaned your list, the next week goes a lot faster. If your first review takes a long time (mine did!), you can do part of the consolidation the first week, and continue the next week. As long as you consolidate more items than you add every week, you’ll eventually reach the bliss of a fully-organized to-do list. 

Consolidation touches everything Consolidate your lists into one, and consolidate your scattered pages to the end of the list. Make sure every project is represented on your list, and also kick in those bucket list items that are just waiting for attention. Soon enough you’ll be hiking the Andes, happily shaving Yaks. For reals.

I’m Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. If you’re an entrepreneur, self-employed or otherwise need to control your own time, Get-it-Done groups help you start finishing what’s important, and develop the habits you need to be hyper-productive. Learn more at http://SteverRobbins.com.

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!

To-do list image courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT. 

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