Overwhelmed by your “to do” list? (Especially when The Planet is on it?)

Gil Friend
2 min readMay 11, 2023

Do you often find yourself overwhelmed by your “to do” list? (Especially when your mission is big? Or very, very big?)

If you’re inclined to systems, check out David Allen’s masterful book, Getting Things Done. Meanwhile, here are a few powerful tips that I’ve found particularly helpful:

  1. Name the “No”s: Don’t just decide what you intend to do; decide what you’re *not* going to do. The are probably lots of things that are important to you, and that you want to do, but you can’t do them all. List them — as Allen would say: get them out of your head, so you can operate with a mind like water. And then get them out of your face — onto what Warren Buffett calls “your Avoid-At-All-Cost list.”
  2. Block the time, and work the blocks: Use your calendar to block time for your key commitments, projects, and tasks, not just your appointments. In each of those blocks, do what you’ve committed (to yourself or someone else) to do — and nothing else! If circumstances make if impossible to fulfill that commitment, move or reschedule the block to another time; “erase and replace,” as my coach calls it. (People differ on this one; some prefer an intuitive approach. So check it out and see if it’s right for you.)
  3. Declare completion: When you review your day at the end of your (work) day — you do close out your day, don’t you? — take note of what you’ve accomplished. (If it was “only” small bites of a big project, take note of that too; big projects only happen in small bites.) Write these completions down, or check them off your list, or color highlight them on your list, or get up and do your happy dance! (Deloading, Tim Ferriss calls it.) Because while there’ll always be more to do — which you’ve rescheduled for another day, right? — you’ll feel your energy lift when you acknowledge what you’ve actually done. Hard work can be rejuvenating rather than tiring when you build milestones — and appreciation — into it.

Doing & Being: These tips speak to the tactical dimension of the work. Something deeper underpins that tactical dimension in my coaching and thought partner work

  • who are you in the matters that concern you,
  • how you orient to those concerns in the world,
  • what interpretations you make of the circumstances you encounter,
  • what possibilities your interpretations open or close for you.

What does this have to do with sustainability, business, and the climate crisis? Everything.

More on that another time.

(Meanwhile, let me know what you think in the comments. Helpful? not? How do _you_ do it?)

#climatecrisis #personaleffectiveness #gettingthingsdone#livingbetweenworlds



Gil Friend

Gil Friend is CEO of Natural Logic Inc., founder of Critical Path Capital, and an inaugural member of the Sustainability Hall of Fame.