S&R Blog

Here’s a novel idea – death to the ‘to-do’ list!
June 24, 2009, 1:22 pm
Filed under: behavior, brands | Tags: , , , , ,

As a product manager during these challenging economic times, you are probably faced with one or more of the following situations:

• Your budget has been cut
• Your staff has been cut
• Your forecast has not been cut
• You have more responsibilities than you did last year
• Your company did not get a government bailout

No matter what else they attempt to accomplish, it is also extremely unlikely that Congress and the new administration will add any hours to each day—24 is all you will get this year.

If you are like most of us, you are busier than you have ever been. You have a wireless card for your laptop and a smart phone grabbing all your emails around the clock. The only time you are unplugged is when you are flying somewhere (and even that will soon change). Your daily to-do list stares back at you at the end of day, mocking all your efforts to cross off just a few items.

What’s the solution? How about doing away with daily to-do lists?

Blasphemy, you say? Not so, says time management guru David Allen, the author of “Getting Things Done.” Allen suggests replacing the daily to do list with a “Next Action” list, divided by category and project. He says that the problem with daily to-do lists is they almost always contain items that really don’t have to get done that day. Tasks that must be done that day belong on your calendar—all other tasks should reside in the launch pad of your Next Action list. Allen’s system preaches that you should decide multiple times during the day which of these Next Actions are the best use of your time at that moment.

Allen even provides clever instructions on how to set up your Task function in Outlook to accommodate his system. Whether you use some of his system or all of it, the Getting Things Done model may help you gain a greater sense of control over the long list of tasks that you face.

Business Week editor Ellen Joan Pollock recently underwent a David Allen Co. individual coaching session and set her goal as “10 extra hours in my week.” Impossible? Not according to the GTD system. Failure to make decisions about tasks and projects can be incredibly time-consuming. Once the system is in place, 10 hours of newly-found time is quite conceivable. Evidence of Pollock’s inefficient system was her in-box of over 6,000 emails.

These ideas may sound radical, but let’s face it—is your current system working well? If not, it may be time for some radical thinking. Let’s see…does banning to-do lists require Congressional approval?

– Ed Leon


1 Comment so far
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For implementing GTD you can use this web-based application:


You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
A mobile version is available too.

Comment by Dan

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