Let Go of those Old Tasks!

Dec 5, 2011

If you’ve read my recent books, you know I recommend that you have no more than 20 items in the Opportunity Now section of your 1MTD or MYN tasks list. Recall that’s the middle part of the list—the part that is not absolutely due today—it  might be due tomorrow, this week, or even as late as 10 days out (but no later). Items in excess of 20 you move to the lower part of your list (the Over-the-Horizon section—the part you check only once a week).

This 20 item limit in the middle section is to make sure you review this list at least once each day. If it’s longer than 20 you won’t review the whole list each day and something may slip by.

But another way to look at this 20 item list is this: you need to let go of some of the tasks on your list and this is an important lesson to learn. We all tend to hold on to our written tasks too long, especially if they are recorded in a computer or handheld device—those things never forget and our list can quickly get out of control.

Enforcing the 20 item rule forces you to let go. It is a cleansing process.  By doing this you are asking yourself “What can I let go of so I can move on to more timely or important items?”

This is good to do. We all get trapped in old goals, old impressions, old urgencies, even after their natural time as passed. This helps clear that. And don’t worry, if you put them into the Over-the-Horizon section, you can always find them later; they aren’t lost. They just aren’t in your face every day, which is a good thing. Or better, delete them!

So let go of those old tasks and focus on a core set of fresher tasks that represents your latest thinking. You’ll be glad you did!


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3 Responses to Let Go of those Old Tasks!

  1. Jerry says:


    I’m loving MYWN system, but have one question. How do you handle delegated tasks, or tasks that are waiting for response, in ToodleDo? For instance, if I have a Critical Now task like “Get seminar dates from Karen” because I have to give those dates to a colleague, once i email Karen to ask for them, now I’m in waiting mode. Would you create a Critical Now task called “Make sure Karen sends seminar dates” or is there some sort of @WaitingFor or reclassification that you recommend for delegated or waiting for type tasks? Sorry if I missed this if it’s in the book.

  2. Michael Linenberger says:

    Yes, just as you say, you would you create a Critical Now task called “Make sure Karen sends seminar dates” and set the start date a few days ahead of your real deadline. By the way, I suspect you are not using Outlook, but you may want to pick up the Outlook book anyway. It shows strategies like that, ones that could be used in any email system.
    Best, Michael

  3. slope game says:

    But another way to look at this 20-item list is that you need to let go of some of the things on it. This is an important lesson to learn.

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