I wake up every morning to a notification that looks something like this:
5 tasks due today. 29 overdue.What a depressing way to start your day, eh?
I always put more into my to-do list than I am able to get done. If I need or want to do something, then I put it in the list. If it's not there, it doesn't get done.
And I think this is a good approach to tackling work. By doing so, I'm much more likely to consciously work on something rather than subconsciously pick up something that's not a priority.
This approach really only works when the list is maintained, like you'd do for a garden. Too many items in the list means too many distractions. Stale and overdue tasks are like weeds, choking your discipline, rotting away at your focus. At best, you accomplish nothing of value. At worst, you accomplish nothing.
The missing piece in my to-do list usage is that maintenance. I really need to hop in there once a week and mow the lawn. Re-prioritize tasks for what's manageable based on next week's calendar. Delete ones that don't absolutely need to get done.
What if you don't?
Well, you start your day off feeling like a failure. And that doesn't seem like a great way to keep you focused on what matters.