Dec 7, 2012
Listing Too Many Tasks Leads to Failure
Probably the number one problem with any computerized task list is that the list gets too big too fast, and then we just give up and stop using the list. That’s because we feel dispirited by the huge number of to-dos, and don’t know where to start. Or the things at the top of the list don’t ring true as being our most important tasks.
Part of this problem is having too many high priority tasks. Most to-do list systems have a three level rating approach, and nearly everyone I know who uses these puts way too many items in the top level. So you can use something called The Going Home Test in to solve this problem. Let me explain how.
Three Ways to Control High Priority Tasks
Here are three ways we keep your high priority list under control in the MYN/1MTD systems.
First, we provide a very simple and uncompromising definition of what goes in the highest priority section (called the Critical Now section): only put things there that are absolutely due today.
Second, to crystallize that a bit, we set a rule that you will have no more than five items in that section. Note you might even have zero items in that section on any given day, which would be a good thing.
The Going Home Test
If you find yourself having trouble keeping the list under five items, then we offer a third angle: use The Going Home Test as a way to help you identify whether a task really is absolutely due today. You see, most of us get carried away even with a statement as simple as absolutely due today, and then list too many things. So The Going Home Test helps makes it crystal clear, as follows.
Before you put an item in your high-priority section, ask yourself this question: “To complete this task, would I be willing to work late, and not go home?” If the answer is “no” then don’t put the task in your high-priority section.
In other words, if the item is not worth taking non-work time to complete, it must not be that critical. Put it in the Opportunity Now section instead.
The Going Home Test is a great way to cut to the chase on what really matters when making your Critical Now list for any given day. I encourage you to use it!