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Lifehacking: One week at a time, please!

Thu 22 October 2009

, Taco Oosterkamp,

Every week our partners at blog about personal growth and office tips. In their premiere, Taco Oosterkamp discusses planning your to-do-list effectively.  


As a Getting things done trainer I’ve noticed that David Allen’s book doesn’t offer a real fixed time horizon for Next Actions. Sometimes people on the GTD Connect forums say they have thousands of actions on their to-do-list. And in real life I often meet people who are stuck, because they were trying to do too many things at the same time.

Way out

The problem with extremely long to-do-lists is that you can easily lose track of the situation. Honestly, how can you not lose focus when dealing with, say, 250 tasks at the same time? Priorities become unclear and as a result you feel you’re not getting ahead. But there is a way out.

The trick is quite simple. Choose from your to-do-list the tasks that you’ve described most concretely and mark them to-do in one week. Mark the rest of the tasks Later/Maybe.


Halfway through the week I scan my list to make sure the tasks on it are really meant for that week. For instance, it’s Wednesday and there are about 40 items on my list. The chance of getting everything done before the weekend is practically nil. I can either kid myself with an unrealistic to-do-list or I can re-mark tasks for the rest of the week and shift others to Later/Maybe.

Simple and effective

At the end of the week, during my to-do-maintenance on Fridays, I scan my Later/Maybe list for tasks to do in the coming week. I put them on my Next Actions list.
Arranging my to-do-list like this isn’t only simple and effective. It keeps me focused, motivated and adds joy to my work. Granted, I wished I could have done more this week. I guess that’s why making a to-do-list is still easier than actually getting things done!

Taco Oosterkamp is a GTD trainer and he blogs for 


Comments (1)


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