Ditching my to-do list for a success list…

As you know I’m (sort of) Type-A when it comes to my to-do list. What goes in there ought to be done. Else, I’m stressed! And after years of experimentation with the best productivity apps out there (including Evernote! One of my favorites!), I’ve decided to do something different.

Was reviewing The One Thing yesterday and one of the BIG ideas in the book is about having a success list instead of a to-do list. The difference being the former is purposefully created around results. Extraordinary results. The ones that really matter.

The rationale is pretty simple: to-dos are long, boring, exhausting, throws you all over the place, disorganized and contains almost every freaking thing in the universe that you can think of (quite literally, I have a “wishlist” inside of my Todoist app)!

A success list, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of a to-do list. It’s shorter (just a couple or three items max!), organized, focused and directive. It’s built around your success thus enables you to cruise towards your goals much faster than your to-do list. Think of a success list as a compass. Its sole purpose is to guide you towards your true north. Everything else is a waste of time.

How to go about it? It’s pretty straightforward:

  1. Create a list of goals. All of them. I stopped at 79. Write them down or just put it somewhere for you to analyze later. Don’t worry you won’t be holding onto it for long.
  2. Circle or highlight the top 10 goals from this list. The ones you just can’t do without. Feel free to take as much time for this exercise. It’s best to block out at least a couple of hours. Just for #2. It took me 90 minutes to finish #1.
  3. Here’s the hardest part — from the 10 goals you have, narrow down on the 3 goals you would like to work on for the next 5 years.
  4. Eliminate everything else!

That’s it! Now you have a success list to work on. Your daily agenda should be driven by these three goals for the next five years or until you achieve one of the goals. Go after the fourth one from the list if that is the case but stay at it until you achieve yet another goal.

Three at a time is a great way to stay focused and achieved your big-hair-audacious-goals.

Game for it?

Here’s another perspective by Shane Parrish of Farnham Street. Imagine you have 96 energy blocks (1 block every 15 minutes or 4 every hour) every day. How are you going to spend it (within an 8-hour workday or 32 energy blocks)? If you’re using a to-do list, here’s how it looks if you were to tackle 10 projects in a given workday (for me, Shane’s would look different):

  1. 10
  2. 5
  3. 4
  4. 4
  5. 3
  6. 2
  7. 2
  8. 1
  9. 0.5
  10. 0.5

When you switch to a success list, things look drastically different:

  1. 15
  2. 9
  3. 8

That’s some accomplishment as you can tell. Imagine the kind of impact you can have with all that focus and time. I know I don’t have to spell it out for you but I’m tempted to ask — do you still want to you a to-do list?