Overcoming My Addiction to Productivity Hacks.
This story was originally published in my newsletter. You can join and get a free copy of my book here.
At this point, it feels like I’ve tried every productivity hack on the planet.
Most gave me a small boost in focus and a few even improved my perceived productivity for short periods. But at the end of the day, I had to recognize that my fixation on productivity tools was mostly just an insidious form of procrastination.
I spent hours re-prioritizing my tasks or installing a new piece of software. Hours that I could have been spending on my art and craft.
And then I stumbled across the most powerful idea ever: deleting tasks.
You heard me right. Every few weeks I go through my To Do lists and look for something that’s been on there for weeks or months with no movement. And I delete it.
So this week, I want to promote the idea of decluttering our To Do lists!
It feels good to write tasks down on a list — what a lot of people call “capturing” tasks. Once it’s captured, a task doesn’t need to clutter up our brain anymore. We can tell that part of our brain to relax and stop worrying. We will get to it later.
And this works, for a while. But if you are like me, over time you will find that there are a number of tasks on your list that aren’t getting done. And every time I skip over a “big life task”, I take a hit to my self-esteem. Why is it still there? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I make it a priority?
The more tasks I have stagnating on my lists, the more stressed and burned out I feel. Collect too many of these and it can feel like life is running off the rails.
Deleting a task is about easing the stress of worrying about why it isn’t getting done.
The obvious objection is, “But Sean, this is a key task for the future I want to create. I can’t delete it. It has to get done!”
But what if it doesn’t?
Delete it or do it. That’s the rule.
I like to rewrite my tasks every few days. If I have a key task related to my future and I find myself copying it down to a list again and again and again, ad nauseam, then I really need to reevaluate this “dream” of mine.
So I will delete the task and write a new one: “Rethink this idea of X. What do I really want?”
What if not doing this particular task is the right thing? What if this task shouldn’t actually be on my list in the first place?
By deleting these stagnating tasks, I’ve been able to eliminate a lot of the expectation-driven bullshit from my life. It’s allowed me to take back the energy and motivation I need to work on new tasks that are truly important to my future and craft.
Do you have items stagnating on your To Do lists? What would it feel like to delete them?