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Personal Growth

To Be More Productive, Scrap the To-Do List. Try the Anti-To-Do List.

At the end of the day, the to-do list becomes a record of things you didn't accomplish: not a great reward for a long day's slog.

To-do lists have long been a tool for keeping track of important tasks and increasing productivity, but in our more fluid lives and workplaces, the to-do list may have outlived its usefulness. Given the number of interruptions we now face–from email to instant messages to a faster-changing work environment–our lists of duties can easily frustrate as other tasks intrude. At the end of the day, the to-do list becomes a record of things you didn’t accomplish: not a great reward for a long day’s slog. But by keeping a list of tasks you have accomplished during the day, called an anti-to-do list because you’ve already done them, you can see all the things you did accomplish during the day and how you dealt with new challenges that emerged unexpectedly. 


The anti-to-do list can also provide a little self-reflection, helping you keep better track of what your priorities actually are rather than what you (wishfully) think they are. This kind of self-reflection is in too short supply given the pace at which we live. When Joel Gascoigne, programmer at the social media company Buffer, began keeping an anti-to-do list, he found himself naturally gravitating toward managerial responsibilities. The reason is that he became more responsive to a wider set of concerns, rather than narrowly ticking off boxes that had only to do with his specific work. 

Achieving greater productivity is about a lot more than having an empty inbox. As Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales explains, leading a productive life is closely tied to imbuing it with meaning. That meaning in turns provides a great deal of satisfaction–in other words, happiness.

Read more at Fast Company

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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