Some projects and tasks make it onto your to-do list or your task manager without much thought or consideration. Ideas, requests, or opportunities show up, and they appear important enough for you to write them down. You have every intention of pursuing the idea, responding to the request, or capitalizing on the opportunity. However, sometimes the things you captured don’t stand the test of time.
Here is a quick aside. Have you ever been so busy that you went a couple of days without responding to your email, opening a few days later to find that some of the emails were resolved without you having done anything other than allowing time to pass? Your task list isn’t all that different.
If some idea has lived on your task list for months or quarters, maybe it isn’t something you want to pursue. If your task list is already overwhelming, it doesn’t help to allow it to become cluttered with things you don’t want or need to do. You remove the psychic burden of carrying these unfinished tasks by deleting them or putting them on a list to incubate, somewhere out of the way of the tasks that are important enough for you to complete.
The same is true of projects. You may want or need to do some project and put in your task manager or on your to-do list. At the time you created the project, you were highly interested and motivated by the idea. As the months have passed, so has your interest and enthusiasm. You can safely remove the project from your list and move it to a master list of things you want to consider again at some time in the future, where it will be waiting for you should you be inspired by the idea again.
A lot of us fear missing out on things and have a propensity to say “yes” when we should say “no.” But saying “yes” to small things means saying “no” to bigger things. You steal your margin by committing to things that don’t move you closer towards your real goals and objectives. It is easier to make a commitment than to break one; be slow to say “yes” and fast to say “no.” If you cluttered up your task list with commitments you should not have made, call the person to whom you said “yes” and apologize that you can’t keep your commitment, and then remove it from your task list.
By liberating yourself from the projects, tasks, and commitments that you aren’t going to complete, you free yourself from the burden of carrying these things into the future with you. You also create more space for what is truly important to creating the results—and the future—you want.