The Three Items You Need to Add to Your To-Do List

Ugh, you must be thinking, three MORE things I need to do in a day? It’s hard enough finding time to complete the things that are already on your list. Why did you even click on this link?

Because you’re a masochist. That’s why. Anyone who has a to-do list is.

And I promise, I wanted this to be “The Only 3 Things You Need on your To-do List” but I know that you need to pick up your dry cleaning, fill out that registration form and order more toilet paper. Those are all important and worthy things to put on a to-do list and I don’t want you to run out of toilet paper. In fact, go ahead and pause from reading this post while you order more toilet paper. I’ll wait.

Ok. Ready? Fill in the following blanks and then add them to your to-do list:

Tomorrow, I will really be upset/in a bind/stressed/regretful if today I don’t:
Next month, I will really be upset/in a bind/stressed/regretful if today I don’t:
Next year, I will really be upset/in a bind/stressed/regretful if today I don’t:

Basically, these items are based on the idea of “no zero” days and building habits. I recommend clicking on the “no zero” days link. It’s really inspiring and something I re-read semi regularly.

A typical to-do list is filled with routine tasks that need to be done to keep your life going. And that’s fine. It’s all important. But one should never confuse getting a basic list of routine tasks accomplished with actually accomplishing anything meaningful with your day.

The first item “tomorrow” really focuses on doing something everyday to make the next day easier. It seems like there are approximately a million productivity hack blog articles produced everyday but we never seem to accomplish enough. Well, you can accomplish this one thing – you can set yourself up for a bright start tomorrow. Some great ideas to start are packing breakfast and lunch, preparing for your morning meeting, setting up your clothes, packing your bag to head out quickly. Once you get that down as a habit, set new goals. Rinse and repeat.

“Next month” is about looking far enough forward that it seems far away but close enough that success will be dependent on steps you could and should take today. Because we’re near holiday season, something like vacation or gift planning may be in order. Any type of trip may fall into this category (although to be fair, planning a trip in a month seems a little short notice. Maybe plan to plan a trip). Look back at the previous month and think about what you wish you had been doing for 30 days that would have put you in a better position today. Maybe started an exercise program? Prepared for Nanowrimo? Written a little bit everyday so that you could have 30 days of blog posts now? Taken a risk? Had an adventure?
Think about some habit you want to start and write that down. This goal can stay static for 30 days or you can change it up every day.

“Next year” is a great goal for exactly now. It’s November and I can’t believe this year went by so quickly. I realize I worked really hard at a number of different goals, and didn’t accomplish some others.

For the goals I accomplished, actually writing the goal down was so important, not just as a way to help me to achieve the goal, but also as a memory of my accomplishment. Strangely, you can slip into complacency even when you’re improving yourself. You exercise every day, your body changes gradually, and you don’t even notice how different your body looks from a year ago. You don’t notice your change in attitude. You don’t notice that your language skills have improved. Your lifestyle is completely different and you get used to it. And you forget where you came from. And remembering the change is so motivating, so important to building your self esteem and believing that you can change in the future.

Some of the goals I started with were reading more books (I’m on track to finish about 100 books this year), exercising regularly (biking a few times a week, even in the winter), practicing my Chinese more consistently (I’ve generally done one language lesson a day but it’s still a struggle to be consistent), and traveling more (I’ve been on 3 international trips this year, compared to 0 last year).

So this time in 2018, what do you want to have accomplished that you can remember starting today?

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