Why Your Todo List Should Never Be Empty


Does your todo list ever reach empty?

We talk about inbox zero. (Getting all the email out of your inbox.)

But, todo list zero?

That doesn’t happen.

Nor should it.

The Never Ending Todo List

Your todo list is probably full of so many tasks that you will never get to them all. It probably even has a few things you will simply cross off at a later time.

However, that is a good thing. And you shouldn’t let a full list overwhelm or stress you out.

In fact, your todo list should always be full. Otherwise, you have given up or aren’t trying.

“If your todo list is reaches empty, either you are disorganized or dead.”

Morbid thoughts aside.

Your todo list wasn’t designed to reach zero.

Rather, it is a tool for catching and collecting all the things that you need to do, might want to do, and hope to do someday.

Empty Todo List?

Your todo list should be your best friend.

Let it work for you. Keep it full of the things you want to remember, so that you don’t have to.

It’s not about completing everything on your todo list, nor should it be.

If your list is empty, here are a few reasons:

  1. You Don’t Have a Formal List– Do you write down todos anywhere and everywhere? On Post-Its? On pads of paper? In your email? Keep one master todo list.
  2. You Are Not Capturing Todos – The secret to a powerful todo list is ensuring that you capture those fleeting todos. The ones you think of while doing other work, before bed, and even in the shower. Capture tasks to your list now, so you don’t have to remember them later.
  3. Not Letting Your List Have Your Back – Let your todo list remind you of those captured todos. When your list reminds you of something you had captured but forgotten, then you know it is working.
  4. Not Adding the Little Things to Your List – Nothing is too small to be on your list. Yet, many resist putting the small tasks on their list. Get these small things out of your head so that you can concentrate on the big things.
  5. Not Planning Ahead – Probably the top reason that your list should never be empty is that you should always have tasks for tomorrow on your list. Are you planning ahead or just acting in the moment? Get those future tasks on your list.

Keep Your Todo List Full

Getting your todo list to zero isn’t the goal.

Letting your list do the work is what it is all about.

Get those tasks out of your head so that you can concentrate on the present.

You may get today’s tasks done, but always keep that todo list full!

Question: Do you keep your todo list full?

8 thoughts on “Why Your Todo List Should Never Be Empty

  1. Yes, write your to dos on a list – or write them on *lists* as I do. This saves you a lot of sorting later. I use five lists: Now, Next, Soon, Later and Sometime/Maybe. Keeping them all in Evernote make it easy to add to the right list.

    OK – they’re not really lists, they are tags. But the same diff, and this does save time sorting out later.

    Cheers, Malc 🙂

  2. Absolutely! If I start to get to the end of the list, I slow down. I need to have a long to do list to keep me motivated. But it doesn’t stress me out because I never expect to get it all done in one day. I have certain things, marked with a star, that MUST be done but the rest of it may or may not get done. But if I do a list with only 3 things, it’ll take me all day even if it should only take 15 minutes.

    Love this post.

  3. I agree with the thought that if you have nothing on your list you are disorganized or dead 🙂 Even if you list things like taking time out or reading your favorite blogs, at least you aren’t at a loose end when you have some free time! That way you can always make the most of your days and feel like you’re accomplishing something. The way your list works and how you let it motivate you will change shape over the years but once you’ve found a system that works for you, get ready for productivity!

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