Only 11 percent of people accomplish their daily to-do list. WTF?

No one accomplishes their to-do list

Got that number from here, via a LinkedIn study that seems to look at 17 industries. I can’t decide if I think 11 percent is too low (what most people think) or too high (which might be logical). Productivity journalism is a huge fucking racket. Everyone is chasing that “hack” that will suddenly make them so much better at their day-to-day functionality, but said “hack” probably doesn’t exist. Also, you can make a case that to-do lists, as a concept, actually hold people back. I’m as guilty as the next son of a bitch on the concept of coming across a post about “life hacks” and adapting it into my own post. I’m chasing that SEO, baby!

Here’s a section of the Fast Company article that’s horrible and enlightening all at once:

Cramming too many things on our to do list can feel overwhelming, so Jason Womack, executive coach and author ofYour Best Just Got Better, suggests sticking to the “verbs that make you money and the verbs that make you happy.” Many people fall into the trap of thinking they’re really busy but not accomplishing much, Womack says, so he asks clients what two to five verbs will help them get promoted this year.

Think it’s kinda ridiculous to focus on “2-5 verbs” that will “get you promoted,” because promotions are a total fucking crapshoot anyway. (In most companies at the modern-day place, you’re more likely to see a VP become an SVP — rich get richer — than any rank-and-file do anything up the chain.) But he does make one good point: almost everyone operates in this place where OMG I am so busy, right? But then you see stats like this — about 1 in 10 people actually do the stuff they’re supposed to do in a day — and you stop and wonder, well, what the hell are people so busy with?

Short answer? E-mails and meetings.

Sometimes it’s amazing to me how much we overcomplicate work, but that’s a topic for another post.


Ted Bauer


  1. I’m about through reading both Getting Things Done (David Allen) and What’s Best Next (Matt Perman), two great books on dealing with productivity.

    A main takeaway from both is shutting down email except for predefined periods (I’m trying mine in 25min segments, 3x day). Deal with it all at once, whether that’s reply, file, delegate, defer, or add as an action item to deal with later. I’m only one week in and shocked at the time that’s freed up, while still processing my entire inbox…

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