The Power of the To Do List

Posted: March 2, 2022 in Uncategorized

At the beginning of the year, I started creating a to do list each week. I put on it essential things to get done, such as my various church duties, devotions, etc. as well as things I would like to accomplish. I’ve found it’s been incredibly helpful in covering a lot of ground. It helps me to structure my days and every time I check something off the list, it feels like a little win. When I put the list together I deliberately try to be aggressive. I realize that there will be things that will have to be moved to the next list and every once in a while something reveals itself as not as much of a priority and gets scrubbed from next week’s list. 

Because I have been aggressive, there is a good chance that I will not accomplish everything on the list. I don’t consider that failure at all, so long as I have been faithful and brought my best work to every element I did accomplish. The reason for this is simple. I am getting more done than I would have without the list, so while I didn’t necessarily accomplish all I wanted to, I accomplished quite a bit and that feels good. 

I was listening to Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love. It’s funny that I still listen because I have found work that I love, but his podcast covers a lot more than just job searches and one of the things he touches on quite frequently is accomplishing goals. He once said something to the effect of, “If your goal for the year is to increase your income from $60K to $100K but you only get to $80K did you fail?” The answer is while you may not have reached your top end goal you increased your income by a third and that is not too shabby. You may not have gotten everything but you did gain a lot. It’s the same way with the list. I may not hit my aggressive goals every week, but each thing I check off of that list brings me a little closer to the goals and dreams I have for my life.

The lists are primarily related to work I need/want to do. I have not added personal and relational things, though sometimes I think maybe that needs to be it’s own list. Each week the first things I need to do are devotions and my reading and studying, Next I add all the things I need to get done to be faithful to my church ministry. Next I include some of my ongoing projects which I have broken down into bite sized pieces—a chapter week in my doctoral dissertation and the creative work for a camp curriculum I and working on, for example. Three posts a week to his blog is another goal as well as a few things to build my skills. I include a certain amount of contacts I wish to make each week for speaking engagements and I try to make sure the list I have includes at least one thing I can do to help someone else to advance in their ministry or just to be a blessing. How you prioritize your list is up to you, but I highly recommend it. It’s working for me. 

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