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Cut Your To-Do List—and Get More Done

Christine CarterAah. The gratification of crossing things off your to-do list. It makes it tempting to do a brain-dump onto paper or screen of every single thing you need to do in the foreseeable future. But you should keep your list short. “A long to-do list is actually counterproductive,” says Christine Carter, Ph.D., author of The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Work and Home. “It causes a time scarcity mentality—you’ll never be able to finish everything—that can freeze out the part of your brain that you need most to work efficiently.”

If your list is in the double digits, you’ll get more done if you break it into smaller lists. Carter recommends keeping one list for the things you can do today, and shunting the rest to a list for the week. It’s also key that you prioritize your tasks. “This gives you a sense of direction, which can lead to a state of flow,” Carter explains. “You don’t have to deliberate over what to do after finishing one thing—you just move on to the next task on your list.”

How does your list compare to others’? We asked Carter and other Conference friends to show us theirs. Here’s what they shared (many summarized):


▶ Read more from the May 2016 newsletter.


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