It’s not a to-do list, it is just a buffet!

It’s not a to-do list, it is just a buffet!

“Are we focusing on getting everything done?”

A lot of my clients, when they start GTD get overwhelmed by the number of items in their task lists.

And this is natural. Until the course, they were carrying most of their commitments in their head and then some in their “to-do” lists. After doing a mindsweep at the GTD Fundamentals course and then populating their lists in the implementation workshop, they can see all the “stuff” in their life neatly transformed into concrete next actions and projects and ponder,  “How am I possibly going to do all that is in my lists?”

Well, I say to them, “You won’t! The fact is, we didn’t make the list up! These are all the things you have attention on! The reality is that you can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything! Having a complete inventory just allows you to make a trusted choice of the doing something from that list that will give you the most value at the time”.

See, the mindset of the to-do lists is, we write down few things to do and believe that we are only productive once we get through ALL the items on the list!!

And yet, all the to-do lists we have encountered are incomplete lists of un-clarified stuff. Incomplete as in a lot of commitments people have are not on any lists, they are in their head. And un-clarified as in, the thinking is not complete, so looking at the to-do list causes overwhelm.

Here is a paradigm shift: Treat your task lists like a buffet!  
Would you be pressured to eat everything from a buffet?

Having all the possible next actions you can do to choose from, is like choosing what you would like to have given your appetite. I am not too hungry; I will have a salad. Or I can handle a heavy meal right now, let me have dessert too!

Similarly, when you are low in energy, you can choose to do some mechanical tasks and get them out of the way. When you are high in energy and have the block of time to match, you can choose to do some intense focused tasks. To be able to do that, you must have a list of possible mechanical things to do in addition to the very crucial things to do. (Refer to my blog, The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing)

To embrace GTD, we must embrace the buffet paradigm. Instead of the thinking we must do all the things we agreed to do on a (very limited) to-do list, we dwell in the satisfaction of making a trusted choice, moment-to-moment, from a complete, current inventory of next actions – a buffet that helps us know what our options are, rather than compelling us to eat everything that is on offer.

In fact, one of the great benefits of GTD methodology is being able to get all our commitments out of our head into a trusted GTD system, and then walk away from that list with that confidence that we will pick up the right things, at the right time, later.

It’s not a to-do list, it is just a buffet!

Stay Productive, Stay Stress-Free,

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Getting Things Done GTD book

*Enhance Your Focus and Beat the Overwhelm

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*Get Things Done with Less Stress

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