We used to keep lists. Every feature request, new product request, items we wanted to do internally, we tried writing them all down. The problem is, we never used any of the lists. (I apologize to every customer who was told their suggestion was “on the list”. They were! We just didn’t really use the lists.) Occasionally we’d look at one list or another but we would never do anything with them. What ended up happening is the lists would be come so large they would be overwhelming and become useless.

Instead of keeping lists, especially when you’re a small company, focus on your current needs. If something needs to get done, it’ll come up again and again and again. If it doesn’t, then you probably don’t have to do it. The scary part about not keeping lists, is you feel as you might forget something. You wont. If it’s important you’ll know it. Or someone on your team will know it and advocate for it.

Not only are large, long term lists useless, they’re actually harmful to your company. They’re overwhelming, distracting, confusing, purposeless. It’s nearly impossible to rank items in a large general list and even harder to come to a consensus across the entire company as to what to do on the list. Plus, looking at a list 50, 100, 500+ items long is just plain demoralizing.

Project task lists and daily to-do lists are okay. They help each person accomplish their tasks. But, if you don’t plan on doing an item in the immediate future, then forget about it. You have too much to do right now. Focus on the here and now, not the millions of other things you could be doing. It’s more important to be successful today than to know what you have to do 3 months from now. Only work on and think about, the items which fit into your current focus.

Now of course you have to have a vision to ensure all your daily tasks and projects are moving you in the right direction. But once you have your vision, don’t worry about item number 273 on your task list. In fact, don’t even have an item number 273 on any task list. Figure out the top 5 most important tasks to do, do them, then repeat.