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You Need a Productivity Breakthrough

OK – I admit that I have a fetish for to do lists. Not that I’m that detailed, but I love working with apps that help me sort and organize my to do lists. My two favorites are Things and Wunderlist. I’m a big fan of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” concept, but I have one big problem with it: I’m a big idea person, so I’m always coming up with things I should do, films I should make, client tasks, and more. So I looked at my to do list recently and it had 783 items on it.

Yikes! It was overwhelming. When I look at that crushing list, I just shut down. It’s depressing. I get nothing done. So the other day something hit me that was a revelation and I think it might help you. When I looked at my 783 items on my to do list, I realized that the vast majority weren’t actual to do’s, they were ideas. They weren’t actually things I need to do anytime soon, they were ideas of things I could do in the future.

So I edited my to do list into actual “actionable steps” versus “creative ideas.” When I did that, my to do list became much more manageable and realistic.

We all have “ideas,” but don’t confuse that with actionable steps I need to take today or tomorrow. Big difference. A 783 item to do list will only make you want to jump off a cliff. But if you understand the difference between a to do list, and an idea list, then your future looks brighter.

What do you think? Is it time to edit your list?

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Phil Cooke is the founder and CEO of Cooke Media Group in Los Angeles (CookeMediaGroup.com) where his team helps church, ministry, and nonprofit organizations engage the culture more effectively through media. He's a filmmaker, media consultant, and author of "Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media."