Immediately Subtract One Thing From Your To-Do List When Overwhelmed

Immediately Subtract One Thing From Your To-Do List When Overwhelmed

We all get busy and end up with too many things that need to get done. If you find yourself overwhelmed with your to-do list, remove something from it.

Photo by Rob and Stephanie Levy

It’s common knowledge by this point that in order to stay productive, at some point you just have to say “No”. As productivity blog Zen Habits points out, this art of subtraction is important not just to staying active, but in curating a life you can enjoy:

Continual addition isn’t sustainable or desirable:

  • Too many things to do means we’re always busy, with no time for rest, stillness, contemplation, creativity, time with loved ones.
  • Overwhelming customers with choices means they’re less likely to make an actual choice. They’d prefer that we curate the best.
  • Too many possessions is clutter, visual stress, cleaning, maintenance, debt, less happiness.
  • Too many tasks makes it harder to focus on any one thing or get anything done.
  • Too many things we want to learn means we never learn anything well.

Subtraction is beautiful: it creates space, time, clarity.

Subtraction is necessary: otherwise we are overburdened.

While you can apply the concept to many aspects of your life, your to-do list is an easy place to start. Some things obviously can’t be removed, like picking the kids up from school, but others can wait or maybe don’t need to be done at all.

The Necessary Art of Subtraction [Zen Habits]

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