I almost made this into two different sections because there are two ways of looking at this key concept.

First, it’s all your fault. There is very little that happens in your life where you don’t have some form of control. At the very least you have control over how you respond to the things that come your way.

I’m sure that some of you are saying that your boss always gives you things to do and you can’t control what your boss does. You’re lying to yourself.

This wonderful post that is blowing your mind is an excerpt from my book Analogue Productivity: Bring more value to work with paper and a pen. Members get it for free and lots of other things. You should join us.

In one of my first web jobs I had a boss that would walk up to my desk two or three times a week and tell me that he had something for me to do. They were all manner of things from changing site copy to fixing some code issue that you could see on the site.

At the time I was brand new. The lowest person on the chart. I had no pull at all, and yet I rarely had to do the tasks that he asked me to do because I had one key response that followed my agreement to work on whatever the task was.

When my boss came up with some urgent task I always responded with: “Sure Ben, here is my current priority list. What should I not worry about on this list to get that done?”

Almost every time he’d look at my list and decide that whatever was on my list was more important than the random task that he came up with. Then he’d head over to someone else and ask them to do it. No one else in the office presented the boss with their list of tasks and priorities though. No one forced the boss to decide if his request was more important than the other items on the list. They would gripe about being interrupted and not getting their tasks done, but do nothing about it.

Even worse, when we got to the end of the sprint the “new guy” was the only one that had all his stuff done. Everyone but me was behind because they never forced anyone else to stick to the priorities that were already aligned. Guess who got a raise from that same boss that was always coming up with other things to do? Yes it was the only person that forced him to evaluate his priorities. The only person that focused on the established important items and had his sprint tasks finished.

It’s all your fault.

Second, you have to do the work. If you’re not willing to do a bit of work regularly to evaluate your week and your priorities, then any system will fail you.

One of the key things that people love about OmniFocus is it’s review feature. I get it, I love it too. No other task manager compares in the slightest with how easy OmniFocus makes reviewing all the projects you have listed.

The only thing it doesn’t do is make sure that you have the time to review on your calendar. Most of the people I coach haven’t reviewed their projects properly in months. Sometimes they’ve never ‘touched’ every item in their task system. That means it’s more a garbage can of things that you never had the strength to decide on in the first place.


  1. Every time something new comes in to your task list, ask yourself what gets to come off. It must be a 1 for 1 trade. No “finding” time to fit it in. That’s the crappy mindset that got you overloaded in the first place.
  2. Get out your calendar and put in the time you’re going to use on Friday to review every single task and project that you have around. Now do this every week all the time. This is sacred space that you must guard with your life.

Photo by: loozrboy