There are hundreds of ways to manage our time, but the most common technique is the beloved “to-do” list.
Millions of people sit down every morning – or sometimes the night before – and right down the most important tasks to be completed that day.
Unfortunately, a majority of the chores on our daily to-do lists are total bullshit.
Our daily tasks are mostly just “fake work.” Nothing really moves the needle.
Luckily, fake work is easy to spot. You’ve just got to ask the right questions, specifically, these two questions that should free up a ton of time to do real, meaningful work.
Question #1: How does doing this task today make tomorrow better?
Asking yourself this question will immediately eliminate pointless tasks from your to-do list.
Especially those tasks that feel super important but really do nothing except kill time and give a false sense of accomplishment.
These tasks include organizing, cleaning, filing, stacking, deleting old stuff, alphabetizing, or any activity that takes a large chunk of time with little payoff.
Does organizing your desk really make tomorrow better? Won’t it just get cluttered again?
Will bringing your email to inbox zero really change the way you work?
An excellent way to gauge if the task is really worth your time is to think about the reaction of other people if you showed them your accomplishment.
Would they shrug it off and go “yeah, cool, whatever” or would their reaction be one of total astonishment?
Another way to ask the question would be “If I didn’t do this task today, what exactly would happen?”
If the uncompleted task doesn’t impact your daily life in any way, it’s probably not that important.
Question #2: Why is this task on my to-do list to begin with?
It’s time to get brutally honest with the way you spend your time.
Take a good long look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “Am I doing this for me, or am I doing this for other people?”
It’s hard to say “no” to friends, co-workers, kids, and anyone requesting our time. Countless hours are typically spent doing things to make other people happy, even if they make us miserable.
We hate saying no. But what happens if you come to the realization that saying “yes” to a request means you’re really saying “no” to something else?
There’s a simple truth: “Anything that we say no to today creates more time for us tomorrow,” explains Rory Vaden, a Nashville-based leadership consultant. “When we do say yes to unnecessary duties, we’re usually acting out of guilt — we’re worried about disappointing other people.
Vaden wrestled with this himself until, he recalls, “in one of the interviews I conducted with a multiplier, they said something that changed my life. They said, ‘Rory, it’s futile to go through life trying to never say ‘no’. What you have to realize is that you are always saying ‘no’ to something because anytime you say ‘yes’ to one thing, you are simultaneously saying ‘no’ to an infinite number of others.’”
If your day is filled with activities that do nothing for your own goals and dreams, eliminate those tasks, delegate them to others, and learn to say no more often.
And finally, maybe just dump the to-do list idea all together.
Chris Illuminati is a 5-time published author and recovering a**hole who writes about success, fitness, parenting and professional wrestling. Reach out to him on Instagram & Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org.