Jeff Davidson's book, Simpler Living, was Amazon Kindle #1 in its category, first quarter, 2012. Jeff is featured in the NY Times, Forbes, Chicago Tribune, Businessweek, Fortune, and Organized Executive.

To-Do or not To-Do: That is the Question

Much of what makes your to-do list, and much of what takes up your time during the day, should not be done at all. If that sounds shocking to you, I have a simple test you can take to determine whether or not the observation is true. Get a hold of your work calendar from ten years ago, five years ago, a year ago, and a month ago, if you still have them, in whatever form they exist. Whether they are hard copy or digital, either form will suffice. Now carefully review the events scheduled, the appointments you had, the tasks you listed, and any other items that merited inclusion.

With the objectivity that comes after years or months, assess what you had listed, as to how important a particular item proved to be for your long-term career development, income, knowledge, happiness, and well-being. If you’re like most people, you’ll be struck by the fact that a quarter, a half, or more of what made it to your work calendar provided no real benefit. In many cases, it would have been better not to devote any time or effort to the activity.

As a second review, go back through old checkbooks. Notice to whom you wrote checks, the amounts, and what the products and services were. Once again, you’ll be struck by the reality that so much of what you paid for was highly elective, questionable in terms of the returns that you received, and on balance, unnecessary.

Now turn to the present array of projects and tasks you face. Some are assigned, so you have no leeway with them. Much of what you face, however, is optional. It’s up to you to decide whether or not to pursue a given item. In cognizance of your previous work calendars, to-do lists, checkbooks, and credit card bill rosters, what can you safely eliminate to thereby free up your time, save your money, and preserve your energy for activities and pursuits that offer greater promise?

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written 59 mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker, making 806 presentations since 1985 to clients such as Kaiser Permanente, IBM, American Express, Lufthansa, Swissotel, America Online, Re/Max, USAA, Worthington Steel, and the World Bank. Jeff is Executive Director of the Breathing Space Institute; a popular speaker; and the author of books such as:
  • Simpler Living (Skyhorse Publishing)
  • The 60 Second Innovator (Adams Media)
  • Breathing Space (MasterMedia)
  • Complete Idiot's Guide to Managing Your Time (Alpha/Penguin)
Jeff is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, and USA Today. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "Consummate Speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his websites and and through 24 iPhone Apps at

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