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10 things a day

· 2 min read

On Monday 4th November I opened my to-do list and was greeted with 149 due tasks.

The usual feelings of being overwhelmed and not knowing where even to start kicked in. I began sorting through my tasks, moving uncategorized tasks into the appropriate categories, before systematically parsing categories in priority order and postponing non-essential tasks. Even after this process, I still had just over 30 tasks which seemed equally important.

At the end of the day I had 20 due tasks. 12/30 is not good.

I felt like a failure.

I’d barely made a dent on the tasks I had due, and I had this dread in the back of my mind that I’d have to do the same thing all over again tomorrow.

On Tuesday, I stopped myself mid-process. 32 tasks yesterday was unachievable - why did I set myself up for failure? The futility of the exercise got to me, and I decided to go down my list of tasks and simply choose the first ten that:

Were a priority

I could probably achieve

I added this 10 tasks to a working list called TODAY. I gave the remaining tasks a quick scan for anything that was of particularly high priority and moved it into TOMORROW.

I reviewed my TODAY list, decided that realistically there weren’t enough hours in the day, and swapped two tasks out for smaller tasks, moving the harder ones to TOMORROW.

I completed all ten tasks. Success!

Although I completed a similar number of tasks, I made sure I was prioritizing the most important ones and not wasting time with a myriad of small tasks, I wasn’t over-extending and setting myself up for failure, and I planned ahead for tomorrow. I also reduced the mental load around actually choosing what task to pick up, reducing task paralysis.

When you go to sleep feeling the day was a success, you wake up the next day ready to succeed all over again.

Limiting myself to just ten tasks a day transformed my week, and I look forward to seeing whether this behavior works well and is sustainable in the long term.