The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your To-Do List

Written by Lynn Daue

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With The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Organizing and Decluttering, author Marie Kondo started a tidying frenzy that took hold of die-hard minimalists and veteran housewives alike. And with good reason: Kondo’s method, dubbed the KonMari Method™, is simple to implement, is effective, and can be applied beyond the organization of material belongings.

When applied to your task list, the KonMari Method™ becomes a powerful framework for creating order in your schedule, and therefore your life. The method has just two tasks: discard and designate. As to the order, Kondo writes, “[D]iscarding must come first … You can think about where to put things when you’ve finished getting rid of everything you don’t need.”

When it comes to tidying up your to-do list, the most efficient way to get rid of unnecessary tasks is by using the four Ds of Time Creation:

Delete, Delegate, Defer, and Do.

1. Delete.

Delete tasks that don't have a purpose. They may be things that you do out of habit, like making sure you like all of your best friend’s pictures on Facebook, or things that you do out of perceived obligation, like attending a 6 a.m. Spin class you hate.

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2. Delegate.

Delegate tasks that have to get done but not necessarily by you. You could get dinner delivered instead of cooking it or even farm it out to a responsible preteen. You can let your kids take the bus to school, participate in a carpool, or let your partner drive them to work rather than always driving them yourself. Another team member, an employee, or a personal assistant can schedule a work meeting for you, so you don't have to handle every single one.

3. Defer.

Defer tasks that need to happen at some future time but can wait for a few hours or days so that you can catch your breath. Things you can defer might be a non-urgent doctor’s appointment or non-urgent emails.

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4. Do.

Tasks that don’t fall into any of the above categories are ones that must be done—unless, of course, they don’t spark joy. If your task list still feels overfull or overwhelming, then it may be worth examining what remains and asking yourself if the less joyful tasks can be deleted, delegated, or deferred.

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