Paralysed by TODO

Do you have a TODO list? I do – it kinda works, but sometimes I find myself on a context switching mess where I have so many hi priority things to do that I don’t know what to do next so I spin my wheels. I find myself doing anything but useful work as a means of escaping the constant stress of the TODO list.

What is the solution? Maybe I don’t know, but sometimes I find myself looking at the TODO list through the eyes of multiple other people, and each of them rates their TODO item as the number one priority – but what is the priority for me?

Is anything on my TODO list a priority for me?


4 thoughts on “Paralysed by TODO

  1. Jodie Miners

    Hi Mitch,
    I recently started doing my Todo list as a mindmap – it works well for me because I have lots of context switching stuff – top priorities in 5 or 6 different context areas… so if I want to work on one of my context areas I can just hide the rest of them and “pretend” the other priority items don’t exist. If I’m bored and want to flit from one context area to another I can see at a glance what needs to be done in each area.

    In GTD style each node on the mindmap is a next action.
    I use freemind at the moment because 1) it’s free and 2) it has a confluence plugin. It’s quite good, but probably not full featured.

  2. arjanzuidhof

    Mitch, my 2c: stop using TODO lists at all! Start using another way of making yourself productive. You might like the GTD (Getting Things Done) way useful. I’m trying to use it now for about half a year and it really makes me more productive! I always have an empty Inbox for example, because mail goes directly to one of Archive, RecycleBin, NextAction, SomeDay, WaitingFor or Defer. This way I always know what it the best thing I can do NOW given the circumstances (available time, priority etc.) Check it out and give it a try, would be my advice

  3. G. Andrew Duthie


    I don’t think that what you describe is all that unusual. I know I go through that particular loop more often than I’d like. I think it’s in the nature of what we do…more high-priority items than ever, and simultaneously more opportunities for distraction.

    I don’t have any magic bullets other than the common-sense suggestions to turn off the email toast pop-ups, disconnect from the web, and get *something* done. Music sometimes helps me get in a groove, and sometimes just coding can put me in a productive frame of mind. But ultimately, I think it comes down to self-discipline, which is something that can be awfully hard to come by at times.

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