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How To Transform Your To Do List Into a Success List

February 23, 2018 • Other • Rob Wainner

The Pareto principle basically states that 80% of results stem from 20% of the causes. While the Alfredo Pareto’s principle originally pertained to economics, it’s been said by many to apply to just about every other area of life as well. Believe it our not, that includes your To-Do list.


In a time when everyone seems to be more over connected and overcommitted than ever before, having a To-Do list alone isn’t enough. If anything, having an ever-expanding list can simply result in more overwhelm.

It takes an effective decision making system to both populate and triage your list. Otherwise, you end up with mere activity versus accomplishment.



A common theme with many of my coaching clients is frustration and anxiety stemming from having to much to do, too little time to do it, and not knowing where to start. Can you identify? This often leads to feeling more like a hamster on a wheel instead of making consistent, meaningful progress on the things that matter most. Now that we are well into 2018, where might you be feeling that pressure?

Whether you feel like your life has become a non-stop treadmill or you simply need to make a few tweaks to improve effectiveness, you’re going to have to pause and reflect on how you approach getting things done if you want to get better.How do you choose from among the many pressing particulars so you can direct your attention to most important few?One way to systematize how you identify and choose what to do is by using a technique called “Extreme Pareto”.




Jay Papasan, co-author of the New York Times best-seller The ONE Thing, describes using “extreme pareto” to identify and then get your ONE Thing done out of the many on your To-Do list this way:

For a given block of time (day, week, month):

  • List (or look at your list) of things you COULD do
  • Flag the things you absolutely MUST do.
  • Make a separate list of these MUST do’s.

This will often take a large list (say 25 items or so) down to a much more manageable list of 5. Now:

  • Ask “If I could only do 1 of the things on the MUST list, what would the clear winner be?”
  • That is your #1
  • If you nailed #1, what would be #2?
  • If you nailed #2, what would be #3?

This now becomes your success list. The price? About five minutes if you have a list of stuff already and 10 minutes if you have to build one from scratch.

Often we know what the clear winner is, we just need to identify it tangibly so we can give it all the focus and resources it needs.If you do that and find you still need a kick-start to get moving, then experiment with Mel Robbins 5-second Rule because it can be a great trigger.


Just because we all experience overload doesn’t mean you have to experience overwhelm and underachievement.The most successful among us use a system to get their most important priorities done. If you want more from your To-Do list, applying “Extreme Pareto” to it is a great place to get started.

Question: What is the One thing you need to do next?

Rob Wainner

Dr. Robert Wainner earned his Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000 and is board certified in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy (OCS), Electrophysiologic Physical Therapy (ECS), and a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT). He is currently Associate Professor at Texas State University Program in Physical Therapy,...

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