Vail Daily column: The ‘less is more’ approach |

Vail Daily column: The ‘less is more’ approach

The other day as I was creating my to-do list I was surprised to find myself staring at 34 items on that list. My belief was that all of these were things that I felt needed my attention or they were actual tasks that had to be completed.

I am a huge believer in lists. They keep me focused and absolutely help me when it comes to my forgetful nature. And as I looked at my daunting list of 34 to-dos, I wondered at what point did I allow myself to even think that I could manage such a long list let alone successfully accomplish half the things on the list in just one day.

Now I literally create such a list every day and do so on the evening before the following day. And I keep my to-do list in a notebook so I can carry forward tasks that were left uncompleted as well as look back with a sense of accomplishment at everything that I had actually fulfilled. So as I looked back through my notebook I noticed that several weeks ago my lists started getting bigger, growing from 10 or 12 as a high, then up to 15, then 18, 23, 27, and now 34.

I also noticed that I had gotten away from a disciplined approach that I was taught and that I still use to prioritize my lists each day. I use the A, B, C system to prioritize my list. The “A” list includes the things I absolutely must tackle before the end of the day. The “B” list items are those things that are very important and if I have time after I have completed my “A” list, I start to get after the “B” list. And anything that receives a “C” on the priority scale is something I know I can schedule for a later date and actually place those items on a future list.

Since my out of control list of 34 to-dos seemed so high, I decided to also look at each task and tried to determine how much time each one would actually take me to complete. Now I am not the world’s greatest mathematician, but I do know there are only 24 hours in a day and when I added up all of the hours on my list, they equaled 54.5 hours. If the list that I had created was my week’s to-do list, I would have been in great shape. However, I subscribe to the daily to-do list as a way of making each day as productive as possible.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

So I went back through the all of the tasks and projects that were in front of me. I went through my A, B, C, prioritization system, and through a “less is more” approach I was able to get my actionable items for the next day down to 11 things that I knew I could successfully complete without diluting my efforts or my results. It was another one of those wake-up calls about trying to do too much and spreading myself too thin.

There have certainly been days where I was able to check off 15 or more to-dos in a single day. And I also know that there were days when I had to focus on just one thing in order to finish a project on time. The point is that sometimes in life, not just with our to-do lists, that we can be more resourceful, increasingly successful, and add deeper meaning when it comes to our families, our friends and our workers when we can take a “less is more” approach to life.

I would love to hear all about your to-dos and how you manage them as well as your thoughts about a “less is more” approach to life at And when we do take the time to focus and prioritize this will definitely be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker, and CEO of He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

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