Get rid of your secret to-do list!

Yes, I know about your secret to do list.  You make your regular ‘to do’ list for the day, the one that you could probably accomplish - if you were perfect all day long.  Then you make a secret ‘to do’ list- this is the one you think you should also be able to get done.

Why do we do this?  Yes, I know you're ambitious.  I am too!  But if I’m going to be successful, and less stressed, then I also need to be realistic.  My secret to-do list is getting in my way.  Do you get to the end of you day and feel like you didn't get anything done?  Maybe your secret to do list is why - because you did get lots of stuff done, just not the unrealistic stuff that there was never going to be time for anyway.

Top 4 reasons not to make a secret ‘to-do’ list:


  1. If you have time for it, realistically, it would be on your regular list.
  2. If it was important enough to do, it would be on your regular list.  

  3. If you don’t get to it, you might feel like you failed - when you didn’t actually fail because you probably got lots of stuff done - the stuff on your actual list!

  4. It distracts you from the super-important priorities you really want to be focusing on!


Her Secret To-Do List

One of my favorite clients, lets call her Sally, was telling me about her secret to do list.  She would meet with her team, they would determine what they were doing for the day, then she would go back to her office and make her secret ‘to do’ list of more stuff she was determined to get done.  Then, when it wouldn’t get done, she would be super-stressed and frustrated!  She was thinking, “I suck! Why can’t I get this done!  Suck it up.”  Rationally she knew she couldn’t get all of this done, but there was a voice in her head saying, “What’s wrong with you?  You can do this too.”

Her Plan (maybe your plan too)

One day, she sat down with a weekly planner and booked out all of the time it would take to do her regular to do list – then she added her ‘secret’ to do list.  What were her results?  That even if she worked from 6am-10pm without a break, she still couldn’t get it done!!!  Seeing it on the page was an incredibly powerful practice.  It enabled her to not feel guilty when all she did was accomplish her regular to do list.  She even stopped making her secret list.  Now she is so much happier.  It’s really transformed her work experience and motivated her even more.  She feels accomplished at the end of each day, even though she’s accomplishing mostly the same amount.  She feels more satisfied with her job.  And she has much less stress.


What would your life be like without your secret to do list? 

  • Would you feel more accomplished?
  • Would you have the freedom to focus on your priorities?
  • Would there be less post-it notes jammed in your planner?

You would get to the end of your day feeling more calm, more in control, and more accomplished

Do you have a secret 'to do' list?  How could you be more realistic about your time? 

Tell me in the comments.

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