The Magic of To-Do Lists

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship / June 30, 2013

To Do ListsWhy do people always think that success is only for the “chosen” ones? Shouldn’t all of us be great achievers?

The answer is that we should. However, few are willing to pay the price of true success. In my opinion, a successful person is not someone who has money and only money, like famous music stars, actors, politicians, or others from the same category.

To me, a successful person is someone who is satisfied in all major aspects of his/her life, such as: the social aspect, the emotional aspect, the financial aspect, and the physical aspect. Of course, we could dig deeper into these categories, but it is not case right now.

So, the formula for great achievement should be a combination of all these aspects. According to David Brinkley, a successful individual is a person who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others have thrown at him.

What does this actually mean?

It means that overcoming difficulties, overcoming the negative behaviors and the lack of support from other people should serve as building bricks for the path to success. Every adversity should serve as a lesson to be learnt and should increase the level of wisdom for a person.

Now, let’s break down success into simpler terms. To be successful means to be able to achieve a desired purpose. To do that, you have to have a clearly defined goal. Without a goal, you are sailing like a ship without a clear destination.

In his book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill said that “whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve”. This means that before achieving something, you have to conceive it and then believe than you can achieve it.

Simply said, having a clear goal is the first and most important step to high achievement in life. Write this down on a piece of paper so you can carry it with you at all times!

If you are an active person, the scenario of your daily life says that you have various tasks to complete, some of them are important, while others are less important. Now, here comes the tricky part.

These tasks are your short term goals (they can be daily goals, weekly goals, or monthly goals). The negative aspect is that you can have up to 10-20 goals per day if you are an active person.

Even though you are a very smart human being, your mind cannot hold all those thoughts in your short-term memory.

To hold 10-20 daily goals into mind (as well as the implications they can have) will result in a lot time wasted to memorize them and transfer them in the long-term memory. In this case, your mind is not the best asset.

George Miller, one of the founding fathers of cognitive psychology, has conducted a study in 1956 in which he found out that humans can only hold in memory 7 clusters of information at a time.

This means that you can only have 7 thoughts in your mind at a time. So, if you have more than 7 goals per day, you could not really rely on your mind.

James Borg, the author of Mind Power, said that humans have 60,000-80,000 thoughts each day. Not all of these thoughts are conscious, but many of them are.

So, based on these two studies I can conclude that our brains produced enormous amounts of thoughts per day and we can only hold 7 of them at a time.

From the depths of logic, what do you think it would be the best thing to do in this situation?

Yes, you are right! You need to put them on paper. Write down every single good idea that transits through your mind each day. If you don’t write it down, you may not know if or when this good idea comes back. It may never come, and you may lose an opportunity of doing something big!

Many successful people point out the importance of writing down ideas and thoughts. For example, Karl Albrecht (the founder of the European retailer store Aldi and one of the richest men in the world) and Brian Tracy (the success coach) are two of them.

A simple and effective strategy for you to become a big achiever is:

1. Create a “todo” list before going to bed. It should include the most important things you want to accomplish tomorrow. Doing it in the evening is better because you know what they say, “sleep is the best advisor”.

When you wake up in the morning and check your list, you may see it differently and you may have strategies to get everything done quicker and easier. Don’t trust me on this. Try it and see for yourself!

2. Make priorities for the items on the “todo” list. Have the most important tasks on the top of the list, while the less important should be at the end of the list.

3. Carry a small notebook and a pen with you at all times so you won’t lose any important idea that comes to mind.

It is even easier with all the technology available because every mobile phone has a “notes” application or program. Use it, please! You will make the world a better place.

What I said here may look very simple and less important, but it personally changed my entire life. I don’t know how I could have lived so far without having priorities and lists of priorities in my life.

I also want to tell you that whenever I make “todo” lists for the day to come or for next month, I always complete these lists in proportion of 90% or more. If I do not achieve something from the list in the following day, I most often achieve it the next day or week.

Everything that has been on my lists, so far, has been achieved. I really want you to try it for the next few days or for the following week because I really want to see this world a better place.

If you are already a high achiever, please tell me how writing down goals has helped you so far. If you are just trying it out, please tell me how it works for you.

Chris from Read and Get Rich helps people hack their own lives to become more productive and more successful. He knows that often life can become challenging, but he says that achievement comes if you push yourself forward, right when you are about to quit.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.comĀ 

About The Author


Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.

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