Book Review: To-Do List Formula

God designed me to enjoy organization.  I don’t fight it.  In fact, I’m at my best when I lean into that realization and leverage it to serve others in a way that honors the Lord.  As a result of that understanding, I enjoy learning more about productivity and efficiency simply because…if I am organized, I am much better postured to say “yes” to whatever opportunities the Lord puts in my path.  To-do lists are definitely a part of the process.  Some days those lists go great…and other days, the lists spawn lists and I feel like I haven’t made any progress at all.  Most days I can see progress, but I always have room to grow and love adding tools to my tool belt in this area.  Being on top of the details creates the intentional space to dream and have vision for what could be.  I never want to miss that!  If you are looking for a helpful resource to evaluate your list strategy, check out To-Do List Formula by Damon Zahariades.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • The main purpose of your to-do list is to help you organize your tasks and projects, and highlight the important stuff. It allows you to get everything out of your head, where things are likely to fall through the cracks. By writing them down, you’ll collect them in one place and gain a bird’s-eye view of your biggest priorities. Page 9
  • Your task list isn’t a tool for getting everything done. Rather, it’s a tool that will ensure you get the right things done. Page 10
  • A to-do list without deadlines is a wish list. Nothing more. Without deadlines, we lean toward inaction. Page 10
  • Deadlines help us to choose between competing tasks based on the goals we hope to accomplish. Page 11
  • Our goals spur us to take action. We’re less inclined to procrastinate when we’re able to predict the positive result of completing a specific task. All other variables being equal, the more certain we are of the outcome, the greater the likelihood we’ll act. Page 18
  • Most people underestimate the importance of their to-do lists. They misjudge the impact their lists have on their productivity. Page 45
  • The simplest way to get through your daily to-do list is to assign a “why” to each item found on it. Know the reason the item is on your list. Determine why you need to get it done. Write the reason down next to the task. Page 47
  • Make sure your to-do lists are limited to actionable tasks, not projects. If an item requires more than one action, it is a project that can – and should – be broken down. By breaking them down, you’ll enjoy better focus and get important work done more quickly. Page 50
  • Attaching a deadline to every item on your master to-do list makes it easier to know which tasks to select for your daily to-do list. Page 50
  • You should know how long each to-do item on your master list will take you to finish. This information allows you to choose tasks for your daily list based on how much time you’ll have available to work on them. Page 58
  • When you phrase a task with a verb, the task comes alive. It goes from being a mere line item on your to-do list to being an actionable assignment. The verb triggers something in the brain, prompting it to focus on completing the item. Page 60
  • The right verbs encourage execution. They encourage you to take action. Page 61
  • Working on related to-do items minimizes switching costs. As a result, you’ll get more done in less time and make fewer errors along the way. Page 67
  • The most important thing is that your approach complements your workflow and circumstances. Page 76
  • The key is what you choose to do when you stumble. Page 78

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