Your To-Do Lists (And Why They’re Killing Your Productivity)

Your To-Do Lists (And Why They’re Killing Your Productivity)


First off, I’d like to say, scrap your to do lists. I bet you that half the time, all they leave you is flustered, agitated (if your days are similar to mine) or at very least, feeling like you haven’t accomplished anything because you haven’t been able to fulfill all the tasks.

You are not alone, though! Millions and millions of people are striving every-day to achieve their career and personal goals, and are getting “caught-up” in the “Rat Race”.

“I don’t have time for X, Y or Z”, and then you get other people who say “Ah well if it was important to you, you’d make the time!” But in all honesty, a lot of people really don’t know how to.

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A few years back, I learnt a time management system from Anthony Robbins, so you know it’s a great management system. This is how it works, it’s called the OPA system.


The “O” stands for Outcome. The result you want. The result of what your actions would have been for the day. Writing this down first makes sure you don’t get bogged down by details just yet, e.g. “I want to have extended energy for today.”


The “P” stands for Pupose. Why would you want that result? What would be the significant result of that? Why does it even matter about it happening? E.g. “It would help me give my family and work a little more effort and concentration today.”


The “A” stands for Action. What specifically am I going to do today to achieve my Outcome. I know because of my Purpose, that it is important to me, and therefore, making appropriate, exact time to make it happen is not a choice, but a must.

E.g. “I have a gap before work where I can squeeze in a 20min run, or I have 30min between meetings where I can jump into the gym.”


Scheduling your life like this makes importance stand out, and insignificance fall away.

However, seeing which of your Outcomes is similar to the next gets us to the idea of “Blocking”. This is simply the collecting of similar activities into the same activity, achieving the same Outcome in a smaller time.

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HINT: Don’t plan your day second by second. There must be gaps, or at the very least, filler spacers between outcomes to keep stress away from you. If something like your gym session goes for 40min instead of 30min, it shouldn’t throw your whole day out by any means. Keep that in mind and this system will work brilliantly.

  • George Jonkers

    I do not necessarily agree with the canning of the to-do-list. I think one could probably apply the OPA to every single item that happens to find itself on your to-do-list. The latter must in any event not be a long list of non-achievable things, but rather be based on the principles of SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound. I believe it takes practice to get it right and very set back in my humble opinion should be a learning curve. For me to-do-lists provide focus and I apply it not only in my work environment, but also in my home. Once the list is drawn up; I prioritise or to those things that will bring about quick wins; which in the end, becomes a motivation factor to work on the rest. It might sound like a cliche, but it is both satisfying and rewarding to put a tick to the box of that which was achieved in a specific day, week, month or year.

  • I disagree. I’ve lived by organizing my live via to-do lists. Perhaps I’m subconsciously using part of this OPA system by only placing those items on my list that I already consider have important outcomes.