• Secret 7: Avoid To-Do List Frustration

    The Best Time Management Tip I Know

    Moving beyond the to-do list to the holding pen and priority list is the best time management tip I know – and that is after more than 40 years of experience with leaders in 160 Fortune 500 Companies.

    Best on What Account?

    1. It is easiest to learn
    2. Simple to use
    3. Can produce results within 2.3 minutes of starting to use it
    4. Takes only 5 minutes a day to use
    5. Can be used in personal and professional life
    6. Can be used a life time.
    7. You’ll immediately accomplish more with increased satisfaction and little or no stress.

    Problems with a To-Do List

    Let’s permit Mr. Todlif and AT Satisfied – two guys with similar jobs – to explain how a to-do list can assure you of frustration during the day and at day’s end. And how the holding pen and priority list can help you change that immediately with the investment of only 5 minutes a day.

    Mr. Todlif’s Day

    Mr. Todlif has 30 to-do’s on his list at the beginning of this day, as shown in the diagram to follow.  As Mr. Todlif works through the day, he looks at the entire list frequently.

    Suppose there are six things on the list that he would like to complete today.  Each time he looks at these six things he generates a little motivation to complete the six.  But as the day goes on, he realizes that he can only do three.  Where does the energy and motivation to complete the other three go?

    This good energy and motivation turns into frustration because he can’t do then. This once good energy leads to bad stress.  So most days Mr. Todlif realizes that he rarely completes what he really would like to finish during the day.  Research shows and experience confirm that consistent stress can lead to chronic stress. And chronic stress can lead to heart attacks, stroke, cancer; any one of which can lead to your demist.

    When Mr. Todlif reviews his priorities at day’s end he sees that during the day he added four more and accomplished only three.  He now has 31 on his to-do list.  If you every had the experience that you came in early, skipped lunch and worked late and at day’s end your to-do list is longer now that it was at the beginning of the day and you feel @#$%^&*(#@, you know what Todlif feel like.  (Todlif is short for To-Do-List Frustration.)

    Mr. Todlif’s to-do list is the list on the left below.

    AT Satisfied and The Holding Pen

    AT Satisfied converts his to-do list into a Holding Pen.  A Holding Pen is a place where you write all the things you want to remember and possible at some time do – and sometime later forget.  Decision not made.

    The holding pen has the following very important characteristics:

    1. It is always immediately available, but out of sight.
    2. As the name indicates, it is a holding pen.
    3. Some have a number of holding pen. For personal, business, others

    Another example; Do this week, Do this month, Just hold maybe do never

    1. Using several holding pens, things are immediately categorized.


    How AT Satisfied Uses His Holding Pen

    AT reserves the first five minutes of the day to fill out his priorities for the day.  He puts the same three things Mr. Todlif accomplished on his priority list, 1, 11 and 21.  But here are some very significant differences;

    1. He focuses only on what he can reasonably accomplished today.
    2. He is not thinking of all the other things he would like to accomplish, but can. Stress is relieved.
    3. The most important difference is at day’s end. As AT Satisfied walks to the car, he check his priority list. He says to himself, “I set three. I got three.  Success again!”


    AT Satisfied’s Double Win

    As the above diagram questions, satisfaction does not equal accomplishment.  Satisfaction is closer to Accomplishment as it relates to Expectations.  AT Satisfied wins first because he set on his priority list the important things that he could reasonably accomplish today.  All day he can feel that he will get them done.  At days end he is successful.  The double win is the little or no stress during the day and at day’s end.  He accomplished what he wanted to accomplish – a great feeling adding to the conviction of control over ones time and life.


    Problem/Challenge of this Blog: Too much to do! I never get everything done!

    SECRET 7:
    The Most Successful People
    avoid To-Do-List Frustration by
    using a holding pen and priority list.


    Problem/Challenge of this Blog: Too much to do! I never get everything done!

    The Aha of the Very Successful

     The very successful don’t try to do everything!

    They are very successful because they focus on the important things!


    The Creative Person

     Most people can create more to do in an average day than can possibly done.


    Taking these to facts into consideration, writing on your priority list only the important things you can accomplish today, takes away the feeling: “Too much to do!  I never get everything done!”


    Benefit 1 of this Blog: Accomplish More and More of the Important Things

    When you use the holding pen and priority list, you have less distraction from all the things you are not going to worry about today.  As a result you can focus your limited psychic energy on the important things.  AT Alumni consistently tell me they accomplish more with less effort and more of the important things.


    Benefit 2 of this Blog: Increase Satisfaction with Little or no Stress

    This simple 5 minute habit of putting your priorities for today on your priority list that you keep in sight and the rest in the holding pen out of sight and out of mind has several positives:

    1. Nothing is lost. You know where it is.
    2. It is out of sight. You don’t generate motivation to do these things. No stress gendered here.
    3. The few things on your priority list you consistently have the satisfaction of getting it all done.
    4. When this happens day after day, you feel more satisfied in your use of time and life control.


    To listen to a real AT Satisfied – a manager for Cisco – once a victim of Todlif – now a very satisfied user of Aligned Thinking, the holding pen and priority list, go to: http://www.ssainternational.com/TeleCoaching/Testimonials/ConqueringToDoList.htm


    Leave us a comment: What part of this do you find useful or have a question about?