How to Eliminate Tasks From Your To-Do List and Still Achieve More

Not everything on your to-do list needs to get done, or to be done by you.

Blake Straton . “Focus on This”

Have you ever looked at your to-do list and give out a hopeless sigh? Many people today struggle with managing piles of work load regularly but still feel like they aren’t getting anything done. Busy has become the new normal, and we think that there is no other option.

But what if I told you that full schedules and overflowing to-do lists don’t always mean productive work days? If you’re running on a hamster wheel, it doesn’t matter how fast you run. You’re not going to get anywhere. In the same way, even the most busy activity doesn’t always result to productivity if we don’t get anywhere.

If we want to do things better, we actually have to do less things. That might sound counter-productive, but you’ll be surprised what laser focus and proper prioritization will do not just for your sanity, but for your productivity too. Getting lesser things done help us do lesser things better.

Of course, simply crushing things out of your task list won’t work either! So how does one start eliminating the right items from your list? Here are four types of tasks that you should start crushing out today.

1. Delete-able tasks

When you take a look at each task on your calendar, it helps to really stop and ask the question, “is this really my job?” As simplistic as that question sounds and as tempted you’ll be to emphatically answer with an “of course it is!” give it a benefit of the doubt.

The truth is that not every accountability and deliverable has to rest on your shoulder. Too many professionals are pinned down like an Atlas with the weight of the world on his or her shoulder. Chances are you’re surrounded with people who you can trust to get things done, and they probably have some overlap on your task list. It helps to compare task lists as well to determine what overlaps we might have with team mates and decide who’s going to do what.

2. Delegate-able tasks

One fact that you must know about yourself is you aren’t the best at everything you do. There are probably some tasks on your to do lists that are better off in the hands of a work-mate or colleague who can do an astronomically better job at it than you.

In these cases, it’s best to delegate. The big misconception around delegation is that it only goes down vertically, meaning it happens between a supervisor and subordinate only. But delegation actually goes all directions. You can delegate upwards, such as in the case of making decisions that only your supervisor might be able to make. You can also delegate sidewards to a person of the same rank who might be better equipped to do things. And chances are, they might even be happy to take that task from you because they enjoy it too!

3. Automate-able tasks

Over the years, I have learned to love technology and all the productivity it can provide. There are thousands of productivity tools available to everyone and many of them are inexpensive or even free. Here are my non-negotiable task automators:

  • Schedule management – This helps me take better control of appointments or schedules. I like using Calendly and Google Calendar. Many of my meetings and tasks are set on repeat on Google Calendar.
  • Task management – I’ve been a big Notion geek since the middle point of 2020, and it’s changed my life forever. If you want a copy of my task list template, you can get it here.
  • Email management – My Gmail currently has various labels and filters that help me sort out over 50 emails a day at the very least, saving me over an hour a day of having to check emails manually.

4. Defer-able tasks

This kind of task is a bit tricky because you don’t necessarily remove it from your list. But you do remove it from the immediate list. We all have those tasks that are undeniably important but aren’t really that time-sensitive. Remember that it’s not a crime to defer tasks, meetings, or appointments if need be.

Personally, I defer half a dozen or more meetings a week and several tasks a day. It’s just natural that things will need more time. So give yourself time when needed.

The Less You Do, the Better You Do Them

It’s far from confidential knowledge that quality increases when quantity drops. The more time you get to spend on tasks that really matter, the better you’ll do them. It’s only then that you become successful and excellent. Don’t buy into the notion that productivity is having hundreds of tasks on your list. True productivity is having a few tasks that you do extremely well.

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