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How do you feel about your to-do list? – Nerdful Mind #111

February 27, 2022 by Simon Mannes

Some days, thinking about my to-do list makes me anxious.

My heart is pounding and I become easily irritable.

It's on those days when I know I have much more on my list than I could ever reasonably finish that day. This can be totally overwhelming.

What creates these negative feelings is the anticipation of failure.

Have you experienced this recently?

What makes it better for me is to think about it differently: "If I work on it calmly and with concentration, it's much less than I think."

I've been doing this since the beginning of the year and just adding this little thought changes the way I think and feel about my to-do list.

I own my to-do list. It doesn't own me.

Of course, that only works under two conditions:

  1. Your to-do list for the day is actually kind of doable.
  2. You get the basics of productivity right.

Learn more about how to optimize your to-do list for maximum impact while being content in my essay “11 Lessons Evening Questions Taught Me About Productivity”.

“Rename your “To-Do” list to your “Opportunities” list. Each day is a treasure chest filled with limitless opportunities; take joy in checking many off your list.” ― Steve Maraboli

Reading Recommendations

Ask Doist: How Is Anyone Being Productive Right Now?

A reader asks about striving towards long-term goals in the face of an uncertain future.

“What should anyone be focusing on right now? I feel that one of the biggest struggles for everyone nowadays is to reorient ourselves toward our goals, because everything seems to have changed so much and the long-term is not really something easy to visualize anymore.”

The Zeigarnik Effect Is Why You Keep Thinking of Unfinished Work

“When you start working on something but do not finish it, thoughts of the unfinished work continue to pop into your mind even when you've moved on to other things. Such thoughts urge you to go back and finish the thing you have already begun. It's why you keep thinking about that page-turner. Or why you want to finish playing a video game until you win. Unfinished work continues to exert an influence, even when we try to move on to other things.”

What To Do When You’ve Run Out Of Programming Tasks

“In most software projects today, you tend to work in a typical Scrum fashion which includes working in time periods called sprints. A sprint is usually two weeks of work where a backlog has been…”

Weekly Mindfulness Practice

Practice this exercise a few times, then use it when your mind is racing:

Take a deep breath. Then ask yourself: “Do I need to think about this right now?”

Often you’ll find out whatever your mind was racing about is not important at this very moment. Write that topic down, then continue with whatever you were doing before.

Another question that works: “Is this important right now?”

End Note

If you enjoy this newsletter, please share it with someone you know. Just forward them this email.

Have a great week

Simon

PS: What do you think about this? Please hit reply and let me know. I’m curious!

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