A to-do list can be a great tool. But like every great tool, it’s not magic. It does take skill to use and maintain excellent tools. How can we hone our skill set with this tool?
One way is pruning. When you look at your to-do list, if it doesn’t fit with your priorities, both daily and ultimate, and is not reasonable for the day or current situation, cut it loose. Chop it off. Let it go.
This will help keep you on point, staying on the path to which you have been called. Paying attention to your priorities in the little, daily tasks will help you as you make the best use of your time each day. There are many good things, but you cannot do EVERY good thing. Examine your list and make sure you are doing what is best.
If you have 12 things on your list, review them to see if some really don’t reflect love for God or for your neighbor or help you do either of those things.
- Did you write it down initially because it sounded cool, but now you’re really not sure why it would be good to do? Cross it off and move on.
- Are you adding items to make you feel productive or important? “Look how long my list is. I’m irreplaceable.” Let’s go back to your identity as a child of God only by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-10). Test your list in light of that truth.
- Does your day look like everyone else’s because you feel you need to go with the flow? Just because a friend or even a reality TV star arranges fresh flowers for her home everyday, doesn’t mean that you must. (Your allergy-prone friend might even thank you for not!) Just because your neighbor does it, doesn’t mean you have to. You answer to God for your time and she for hers, and you can both hear “Well done” with task lists that don’t match. If there is no value other than peer pressure, get rid of it.
Pruning will also help you stop sabotaging yourself. Often we hang on to things that we will never actually do (and shouldn’t necessarily do) and repeat the failure loop. Set yourself up for success, true success. Bring glory to God in all that you do.