Knowing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing

In “You don’t even know what you’re procrastinating on“, referring to forgotten needs like “family, health, creativity, spiritual development, community involvement, nature”, I wrote

The worst form, the key form, of avoidance behavior is not figuring out, letting into awareness, what you really need to do.


Managing your life well is not just making a list and putting it in order, but also making sure the most important things are on that list at all.

But now I realize that even on the most mundane, workaday level, it’s common to not know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing at a given hour of the day. Even on that immediately practical level, it’s common to not even be aware of specifically what you’re procrastinating on! The brain’s avoidance abilities are amazing. Try it out if you don’t believe me. Ask people in a friendly manner, especially when they are websurfing or similar, “What’s on the top of your to-do list these days?”

And ask yourself right now.

What are some tactics to compensate for this tendency?

In “Amount of time spent on a project isn’t what counts — it’s the amount of uninterrupted time“, I advised

Get very clear on the specific task that you want to make progress on, for example, update a resume, write a proposal, clean out the garage, etc.. Write it down in a steno book, next to the current date and time.

A natural source of these is your to-do list. But what’s the best way to construct your to-do list?

In “Don’t write your to-do list at the start of the day, write it at the end of the day” I report the advice of Edwin Bliss, who says writing your to-do list at the end of the day is the #1 time management recommendation of successful executives.

But remember that a to-do list is not some accumulating pile of nice-to-haves. It’s what you commit to get done before you go home the next evening.

In “You are never going to get caught up” I quote Brian Tracy that

No matter how many personal productivity techniques you master, there will always be more to do than you can ever accomplish in the time you have available to you, no matter how much it is.

You’ve got to choose a few to-do items that matter, and lose the rest. And you’ve got to be specific.



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