#18: Avoid To-Do Quotas

Many people set a goal of “completing X tasks every day”.

It’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make.


The intention is good, and it looks like it makes so much sense on the surface.

  • It’s a habit.
  • It’s motivational.
  • It’s certainly better than nothing.

Many productivity apps play into this idea by providing a ‘daily task goal’ option, nudging you when you haven’t hit a checkbox enough times.

The problem?

It assumes that every task is created equal.

That is just not the case.

Some days, you may get optimal results by focusing on just one high-input high-output task. On other days, you may need to churn out 25 microtasks. Sometimes, it’s best to do absolutely nothing.

Putting an artificial amount into the number of tasks per day completely ignores these realities.

Adhering to the number may lead you to do sloppy work, burn yourself out, or deprioritize important tasks just to attain your task quota.

What to do instead?

Actionable advice for this week: commit to time blocks for deep work.

Instead of committing to a certain amount of tasks, try committing to a certain amount of time without any output expectations.

“I’m going to 5 tasks” becomes “I’m going to commit to three 2-hour blocks of deep work”.

Do your nerves a favor and give it a try.

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