Last Updated on 7 April 2011

Sand for Your Inbox
January 2010

How is your resolution season going? Mine is okay so far.

As I started to put together my “ToDo” list for 2010 – carrying over things from 2009 – I realized I’m trying to “pack for a five-day trip into a four-day suitcase.” Trying to cram in too much. Does that happen to you?

stuffed suitcaseThe frustration (and illusion) is… we think if we re-fold and rearrange our clothes just right, all of our items… just… might… FIT!?

Perhaps, with enough stretching – and someone to sit on the suitcase while you zip – you may make it work.

(But, you know when arriving the destination you’ll find undergarments strewn on the baggage carousel along side a popped suitcase).

Unfortunately, this same behavior is what many of us tend to follow when managing projects and tasks we need to accomplish at work and home. We try to pack as much as possible into our time.

The Problem

Each of the things we think and worry about use up a little bit of our brain processing power. From the small “buy milk on the way home” or “fill out TPS report” to the big “don’t forget wedding anniversary” and “marketing plan due next Wednesday.”

Even if we write things down (which is a good idea) we still drain a bit of our brain’s power. And, when you’ve got too many things rolling around up there – it can cause stress, problems concentrating, difficulty sleeping, and disorganization.

We’re over packing our brains.

The Solution – The Un-ToDo List

Instead of trying to cram your ToDo list beyond capacity, try an Un-ToDo list? Remove things that are creating clutter, distraction, and the feeling of “Yikes! I’ll never get it all done.

I guarantee there are items listed in your task management system that you may never do… or are so far in the future aren’t relevant now.

Here are the key steps…

  1. Gather all of your tasks in some sort of list.
  2. Right off, eliminate those that:
    • aren’t necessary,
    • have been lingering and you’ll probably never do, or
    • are time fillers. Activity not necessarily productivity.

    (Feels better already, huh?)

  3. Move the things you’ll get to in the future to a “someday maybe” list. Your “someday maybe” list is a list you keep filed safely away, and review once in a while. It is a good way to store ideas out of your mind, but in a safe place.

TIP: You can use the Idea Sandbox Prioritizer ( to help with your Un-ToDo list. This free web-based tool helps you arrange your first things first. The items that fall at the very bottom of your Prioritizer list probably could be deleted or moved to a “someday maybe” list.

I hope this idea really helps you. I think you’ll find clearing out some of your task clutter will lighten your load and help you feel that you’re accomplishing more.

I’d love to get your feedback in the comments below!

Happy Un-Doing.


Paul's Name

Paul Williams
professional problem solver
Idea Sandbox
Twitter: @IdeaSandbox

Amsterdam • Seattle