Making a List Isn’t All You Need to Do

We often say when we feel overwhelmed, “I need to make a list!” That is a helpful habit, but if you don’t think about your list, and make decisions about the things you’ve written down (“What is this? Where does this go? Is it actionable? Is it a project? What’s the next action? Who needs to do it?”), then the overwhelm will come back with a vengeance – you’ll feel more overwhelmed by looking at your list! David Allen, author of the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, says this: “Just the fact that it’s written down doesn’t mean it won’t crawl back up into your head if you don’t process and organize it.”

We need to get into the habit of collecting, and then processing what we’ve collected – asking those sometimes tough questions about what things mean. Allen writes, “Remember, emptying the collection tools does not mean that you have to finish what is in voice mail, email or an in-basket; it just means that you have to take it out of the container, decide what it is, and decide what has to be done with it. If it is still unfinished, organize it into your system. Just don’t put it back into ‘In!’”

The Farmer


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