Vail Daily column: What to do with our ‘to-do’ lists |

Vail Daily column: What to do with our ‘to-do’ lists

As I attended a training session and workshop around accountability and goal setting this week, the facilitator took the class through a few very interesting exercises. And as many times as I have either attended such workshops in the past or have even taught or coached to the topic, I realized that I was either not doing the behaviors that had brought me success in the past, or I had stopped doing them for some reason.

Now my to-do list is not the issue. I still write down my to-do list the night before or early in the morning before my day gets started. But there were a few problems that became very apparent as I realized where I started cutting corners.

The first problem was that I stopped writing down the “why” next to each item on my to-do list. Understanding the “why” is so important in helping to prioritize what really needs to get done. As I sat in the class and flipped back through my notebook at my to-do lists from the past month or so, I realized that my lists just kept getting longer and longer.

Some days I had more than 30 items on the list, and only got to 10 or 15 things. Now part of me says that I should feel a sense of accomplishment for getting those 10 to 15 things done, but on the other hand there were 15 to 20 things that I didn’t get done.

The second problem was that I stopped attaching the items on my to-do list to my personal and professional goals. The “why” helps in addressing that, but the more specific that we can be when we set our goals, the more meaningful our to-do list becomes.

The third problem, and maybe the biggest problem was that I realized I stopped delegating where I could. I stopped listing the names of people who could help me or who I could ask to take over a project or opportunity.

Maybe you are a list maker to, maybe not. If you are, I would encourage you to remember to write down the “why” next to each item on your list; take a less is more approach and focus on the most important items; attach the item on your to-do list to a specific goal; and lastly, write down who you may be able to ask for help.

How about you? Are you making lists for the sake of making lists? Do you have a very concise list that is tied to your goals and dreams? Either way I would love to hear all about how you organize your to-do lists at And when we can learn to manage what we do with our to-do lists, it really will 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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