What Do You Do When You’ve Finished Your To Dos?

75 responses.

Here’s a problem I have that drives me crazy. Maybe you have it too. Better yet, maybe you had it, solved it and can tell me what worked for you.

What do you do when you’ve finished your to dos? That is, what do you do when all your phone messages are returned, your projects are up-to-date, your deadlines have been met, and even the pesky errands you’ve been avoiding (filling out time sheets, computing tax forms, checking blog analytics) are finished?

Believe me, this question is a lot harder to answer than you might think. I’ve asked lots of people whose opinions I respect – clients, friends, family – and I’ve gotten a lot of answers but not a lot of satisfying ones.

Here are some of the better suggestions I’ve heard:

Seth Werner, managing principal of The Davis Companies, said to “walk around.” His point was that free time is the perfect time to check in on co-workers to see how they’re doing and what they might need help with. After all, just because I’m done with my to do list doesn’t mean that others in my office are done with theirs.

Bob Berkowitz, founder of Multivision, suggested I go home or go do something fun. He stressed that inspiration is more important than hours invested and so the best thing to do is recharge your batteries and get fired up for the next challenge.

Steve Demar, partner with Kaufmann Rosin, checks on the people who report to him. Jason Kates, CEO of rVue, calls clients. Tom Cowan, founder of Vecker, reflects on his goals and his plans for achieving them. Jeff Palmer asks “what question needs to be answered right now?” Banu Dadlani meditates.

I’ve been told to work on pro-bono projects, review company fundamentals, even to write new blog posts. My dad told me that the answer always changes but that I “always know what needs to be done.”

Most everyone else I’ve asked just doesn’t seem to understand my question or at least they don’t see why it vexes me so much. Some laugh that their to do lists are so long that they’d just be happy to have my problem. Some can’t imagine why I want more to do.

Call clients? Practice harmonica? Start a new book? Make more cold calls? Visit with my co-workers? Come up with unsolicited ideas for our customers? Clean my desk? Practice my latest speech? Go for a run? Learn a new web skill? Tweet? Blog? Take a class? Take a hike? Take a nap?

Maybe you’ve dealt with this and have a solution. Or maybe this is the first you’ve thought of it but you’ve got a good suggestion. Either way I’d truly appreciate your input. As a thank you I’ll send a copy of my latest book, “Building Brand Value” to the person who sends the idea (or ideas) that I incorporate into my daily routine. I’ll also post the best suggestions in a future blog so everyone can benefit from this experiment in crowdsourcing.

Thank you. I’m looking forward to your answers.

  75 Responses

  1. on August 24, 2010

    Get lost in a book store

    Visit a local museum

    Wander around art galleries

    Walk the dog while listening to my iPod

    Wander down backwood paths (in Parkland)

    Watch the day break

    Watch the sunset

    Go to the driving range with my son to see who can hit the ball farther

  2. Steve Hargis
    on August 25, 2010

    Pure fantasy – this never happens in the real world. TODO lists are only a collection of the top ten things TODO – there are always 20 on the list

  3. on August 25, 2010

    1-I read Bruce Turkel’s emails
    2-call my mother-in-law (Truly!)
    3-check Exclusive Resorts calendar for openings for upcoming vacations
    4-check facebook for Seth Gordon’s constant ranting
    5-walk the floor to chat up the folks
    6-call for deals from our 5,000 plus database

  4. Mace
    on August 25, 2010

    Most to-do lists are dynamic…new items added on as old items are completed. My to-do list has never, and will never be completed. The other actions you mentioned are just other items that go on my to-do list and get prioritized for that day, week, or month. What can I tell you Bruce…Life is just a work in progress.

  5. on August 25, 2010

    Are you kidding – There is so much still “to do” :
    First, take a few minutes to think, re-charge the
    brain with some deep breaths to clear the mind
    and rid the clutter. Then , that never ending
    stack of great reading ( articles, chapters in
    books etc. ) that someone has shared or insisted
    you read, but who has the time? And , if all this
    gets done ( ha!) , then you finally get time to
    go to the bathroom !

  6. mel roth
    on August 25, 2010

    Go to Martha’s Vineyard.

  7. mel roth
    on August 25, 2010

    Go to Martha’s Vineyard.

  8. on August 25, 2010

    I use the time to surf the web and learn about stuff that is “new.” New technology, new ideas that leading edge companies have launched, new content that competitors have posted on their sites, etc.

    I have an ipad now which makes it infinitely easier to search while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, waiting for a meeting to begin, etc.

    I love the challenge of finding something totally unrelated to my field and yet, after stumbling upon it see an immediate application to how that idea could be adapted and used in my business.

  9. on August 25, 2010

    Since I just finished my to do list for this morning:

    –call or e-mail a friend/acquaintance that you owe a “hello”

    –go to the beach

    –go to the park, sit on a park bench and just watch people

  10. on August 25, 2010

    I play the bass. Sometimes I play the bass so I can loosen up in order to finish my To Dos. We have music. Music has us. It’s a great gift, and we must open it often.

  11. on August 25, 2010

    We should all be so lucky – breathe, deeply. Give thanks.
    Ok, that took 15 minutes. Ironically, I read something this morning that may be applicable: “50 ways to get your life in order” – http://litemind.com/life-in-order/ and some were quite good. Hope that helps, if not, give me a call, I’ll find some things for you to do.

  12. on August 25, 2010

    Nice article and it made me think!
    ( I clicked on your book link and it came up as a “broken link”)

  13. on August 25, 2010

    On those rare occasions where I actually have a moment to feel complete with tasks, I think about what is out there that I don’t know how to do but would like to. So far I’ve tried whitewater kayaking, meditation, signing up for a triathlon. I found out none of those were on my keeper list. I’ve also learned to get over two logs instead of one on my mountain bike, written an ad campaign for my market on a niche no one’s talking about yet and looked for someone I admire but don’t know to make contact with and get to know. (A nationally known local author most recently.)

    I like to do stuff that confronts me in those moments to build competence, innner strength or just scare the crap out of myself for trying something emotionally or physically on the edge of dangerous. It’s personally empowering to say I did it, that I was brave enough to try even when I failed. It makes getting through the lists everyday supremely more doable and believe it or not, even more enjoyable.

  14. on August 25, 2010

    There are a couple of items that never leave my to do list and remain a constant. 1. I make sure I’ve communicated my vision for the team/brand every chance I get. I make sure that the talent around me is getting all out of me that they need or that I’m available for their “got a second” requests to discuss new ideas.

    Secondly, I make sure that I take 45 minutes a day to clear my head via reading or exploring something I wouldn’t normally look at.

    Most importantly, I make sure that I add new “stretch” goals to my to do list, as I am constantly looking forward.

    As I’ve learned, while moving very fast, you’re destined to crash if you’re checking out your rear view mirror-I look forward and always make sure that my to do list is very forward moving and that those around me are looking ahead as well.

  15. Edwin Goldberg
    on August 25, 2010

    Find a way to celebrate, after rechecking the todo list of course. Sit in a nice room. Drink a beer (at least a lite one). Call a friend with whom you have not spoken in awhile, just to say hi. Call your mom, if you can.

  16. on August 25, 2010

    As a solopreneur, I end up on one of three roads:
    1. Celebrate the To-Do’s DONE.
    I’ve gotten a lot more flexible in patting my own back or I shine my own horn to toot.

    2. Reconnect to what I love
    I do what I love for a living. Which is awesome. Not all To-Do’s connect to the core of my passion. Sometimes I use this time to make sure what I’m doing really fuels my fire. Assess. Look to the future.

    3. Do something completely different
    Find new stimulus. Get out of the home office. Wandering is awesome. Museums are great.

    My favorite – I’m an unabashed library dork. I wander aisles skimming books. I love finding bizarre titles, strange adjacent titles or topics, books written to specific markets I hadn’t thought about.

    AND most importantly, I’ve learned to make my To-Do lists focused and short enough to be accomplishable, giving me time for the above.

    That’s my 2 or 3 cents worth –
    Brandy, graphic facilitator, Loosetooth.com

  17. Robert
    on August 25, 2010

    Reward yourself with something you really enjoy to do. The fact that you were able to finish in the first place is a great thing. Because usually the “To-Do” list always keep getting bigger as new things get added on.

  18. Merri Mann
    on August 25, 2010

    You might want to learn how to do some exercising in a very quiet, non obvious way. 10 minutes a day of stretches, pull ups, bends, hand weights, etc. could do wonders.

  19. on August 25, 2010

    This question perplexes me because my To Do list is an evoling process. I take off what has been accomplished, file and tag what needs responses, input or more information, forward what needs the expertise of someone else and then review and plan for the next day/week/month/year. My To Do list is part of my planning process and has to allow for the unexpected to creep in. It is not a bucket list so I so not know how I would not have one unless I had nothing to do and that would be boring.

  20. on August 25, 2010

    First of all you cannot consider this a problem and be taken seriously. Anyone who pretends to take this seriously is only doing so because they’re your friend, and since I am your friend, here are my thoughts.

    1) Take Banu Dadlani’s advice and meditate. Alert good posture, slow deep breathing, and clear your mind by gently dismissing any thoughts that come up the same way your would clear a work space to begin a new project. No need to do more than a few minutes – just long enough to quiet down and relax.

    2) Stretch your body. Swing your arms, touch your toes, whatever works for you to limber up a bit and get some circulation going.

    3) listen to your dad

    I just made this up – doesn’t sound too bad – I might try it sometime.

  21. Jeannea Spence
    on August 25, 2010

    The reality is that the “To Do” list is never complete so one has to make a conscious effort to make a space in the day anyway. In the end, I find I’m much more productive if I refresh my spirit, even if only for five minutes. A few things I like:
    – Breathe. Deeply. Surprisingly I do sometimes forget to do that and find myself tensed up not breathing when I’m stressed
    – Grab a cup of coffee and sit outside without my cell phone or laptop. Get quiet and see how many distinct sounds I can hear. Some might call this meditation.
    – Call a friend or a frient (client who has become a friend) that I know will make me smile and not bring me down.
    – Take my dog for a short walk. I have the luxury of working from home.

    I come back to whatever I was doing with a renewed focus and the “To Do” list gets accomplished more quickly and with a smile!

  22. al chisholm
    on August 25, 2010

    Honestly, I like to see what other people/companies/brands are doing creatively. I like to see if there’s a message, text or visual, that would inspire me, spark an idea….or even guide me on “what not to do”. I actually find it relaxing and fun at the same time.

  23. Ed Tronick
    on August 25, 2010

    Great suggestions. Some day when my to do’s are done Iwill try one of them out.

  24. on August 25, 2010

    Enjoy every moment of down time doing something your really love to do, because something to do will come up sooner than later and surwkt you will also create a to do during this very respite.

  25. Banu Dadlani
    on August 25, 2010

    The meditation technique is a simple technique. You sit on a chair, with your feet flat on your ground, keep your backbone and back straight, keep your chin up, and then breathe deeply….. Follow the flow of your breath, from your nose to your lungs……. Do this for 5 minutes, 2 times a day (not after eating. (If your mind needs more time, it will just meditate for that much longer)…… Try it right now….. You will feel the positive flow…….

  26. on August 25, 2010

    SLEEP.That’s what I do. Never get enough good sleep to refresh. New challenges, thoughts, innovation, and answers all arise through my rest process.

    – David

  27. on August 25, 2010

    I have named two folders in my e-mail program “THINGS FOR LATER – MUST DO” and “THINGS FOR LATER – COULD/SHOULD DO”.

    The MUST folder has items that require some action on my part but there is no firm deadline. Somebody will probably ask me for a response at some point with a MUST folder item.

    The COULD?SHOULD folder contains items that I feel would be beneficial to me or the business in some way but inaction on my part will not result in anything bad happening and no one is going to call. Like responding to your blog posts for example.

    I seldom get everything checked off my “to do” list in a day but on those days when I do, I go to these folders and try and pick a few off of the MUST folder and at least one off of the COULD/SHOULD.

    I suppose therefore that I never really do get my to-do list finished, because in five years of doing this those two folders have never been empty…. except that one time when my
    hard-drive crashed.

  28. Geraldo
    on August 25, 2010

    Bruce, on the very rare occasions when I can come up for air I do two things:
    1) I practice MBWA (managing by wandering around). I visit our facilities and speak with the people on the front lines as well as members about their experiences. I always come back energized.
    2) Research my competition by visiting their websites, and visiting their facilities to speak with their employees, and members. I never fail to either pick up on something we do that we could do better or a new way of doing things.

    I also use that time to catch up on the many trade journals for our, as well as related, industry. I have become very adept at skimming the rags for pertinent articles and information. I clip those that I find useful or interesting.

    Since my life has been focused on start up and clean up companies, frankly there is rarely a time where there isn’t a “to do”.

    Gerry Weber

  29. on August 25, 2010

    This great question actually drives down to the deeper purpose of your life. I don’t know what it’s like to finish all one’s TO Dos. Wow! Lucky!

    But if you do, have a “project list” always at the ready. You know, the bigger vision stuff. The stuff that you have not yet noodled on, or put in quantitative steps or have not yet decided its direction. This is when you can really implement your life purpose, if not already addressed in your daily work. Block time for this,too. And of course, resting, as mentioned here, or doing nonwork-related somethings (or nothings) can work to recharge and bring joy to your life, too. Life is more than To Dos (I am still learning that one, even as I write it).

  30. on August 25, 2010

    I’ve got it. No really I’ve honestly got it.
    It’s the thing us work-a-holics often forget. When you’re done, really done, the most important thing to do is this: whatever you want. Whatever you want and that’s it. If you want to blog, blog. If you want to check google analytics, check. If you feel like looking out the window, look. If you feel like googling yourself, google. If you feel like doing nothing, playing harmonica, writing a song about yourself, pretending youre a bad ass drumer with 2 pens in your hands and several desk top objects then drum away. Just don’t forget to take the oportunity to please yourself. After all, we do best what pleases us most. we are always comited to the things we HAVE to do so when you’re done with the ‘have to’ do what you WANT to. I know what you’re thinking… “what do I want to do?” sometimes trouble deciding what you want to do is trouble because your desision making is clouded by what you think should be more important for you to do or more benificial. You’re still in to-do list mode. Take a deep breath, turn on your favorite party song and do what makes you you.

    …. And hurry because you’re always one phone call away from another thing to do.

  31. on August 25, 2010

    Start a new to do list because there is always something to do that you haven’t done, that no one else has done, that needs to be done or should be done….. and then repeat.

  32. max sturman
    on August 25, 2010

    Since we have already trained ourselves to complete professional “to dos”, use that training to create & resolve a secondary to do list of personal, familial, & educational items. The transition back & forth between the two lists should be rather painless.

  33. on August 25, 2010

    Take a walk
    Talk to your kids
    Talk to your wife
    Talk to your friends
    Talk to yourself
    Most importantly clear your mind of all the garbage.
    When you do this, as with any metaphysical belief,
    you clear the way for new ideas and feelings
    and open your heart for the missing answers.

  34. on August 25, 2010

    Done with your To Dos? You, my dear friend, Bruce, are either superhuman or I am living in an alternate universe.

    I’m still catching up on my To-Dos from 1997. LOL


  35. Deb Lang
    on August 25, 2010

    As a working Mom I often find I never complete my “To Do’s” list. But I did on Sunday and I asked my daughter to join me in preparing a very nice lunch, netflix movie, then in-home mini spa treatments. When the boys(hubby and son) came home after boating with Lobster for diner they asked “what you guys do all day” we enjoyed saying “hay we never left the house but really had fun today.”

  36. on August 25, 2010

    It figures that Al Chisholm would think of only making money. Some people never change. It won’t help you live any longer or happier, Al. HA!
    You can still make money and make yourself, your
    friends and family paramount in your life.

  37. on August 25, 2010

    I vote for reading. Jim Cathcart talks about if you read an hour a day on particular subject, you can be a subject expert in one year. Now, I can’t say I’ve been diligent to focus on one subject, but I also remember the kids in my son’s preschool being designated as “readers and leaders”, so I say become a reader and a leader.

    2nd vote would be for walking, getting out in nature and our beautiful planet and appreciate it while we’re here.

    I’m also a fan of an occasional museum trip.

  38. kevin hurley
    on August 25, 2010

    Play or listen to music. It’s good for your soul!

  39. Shannon Chamberlain
    on August 25, 2010

    When today’s to do list is done, why not spend your time doing something you love and feel passionate about, but have been denying yourself?

    Ice skating, creating music, painting, learning to tango…
    …simply feeding your soul and connecting to a greater part of yourself.

    In fact, why not take action and plan “to do” something to feed your soul this month? this week? today?

  40. on August 25, 2010

    When I finally have some Me Time, I like to put my feet up on my couch and do some “Imaginering”.

    Letting my mind wander and has taken my mind into areas that I would never venture into.

    During this time period, I figured out ways to create Fine Art and I’m in the process of taking a device I’ve invented to the marketplace.

    It just goes to show you, that if you get out of your own way…
    the ideas (Life) will flow through you.

  41. on August 25, 2010

    Hi Bruce

    It hasn’t happened yet, but when it does, I fully intend to start on my To Don’ts…


  42. Tama Zaydon
    on August 25, 2010

    When my “to do list” is done I reach out and help someone finish theirs. If no one appears to need my help at that moment I go for a swim in the ocean and meditate. At times I have been lucky enough to do both on the same day.

  43. on August 25, 2010

    I am more like those who ask incredulously: “It is POSSIBLE to finish your to-do list?!?!”; however, if I were able to, and was able to escape from the office, I would probably either:

    •Pamper myself in some way – i.e. get a massage, manicure, pedicure or the like. I often think of the instructions from the flight attendant when I was traveling with my daughter when she was young: When (I mean, IF. . . ) the oxygen mask drops down, secure my mask first, then assist my daughter. The thought, of course, being that your child (translate to ‘family’) will suffer if you don’t take the time to take care of yourself first. (This is particularly hard for women to do – and the pampering thing is more of a woman thing, so you might not find yourself doing this! But, I think the general idea still applies across the genders – just the activity might change – you might go fishing instead! Or not! :o> ; and/or

    •Do something spontaneous and unexpected with my family. For example, if I finished up and was able to leave the office, say, at 1:00 one weekday, I might go to my daughter’s school and pick her up early (assuming she didn’t have any tests or special projects due in her afternoon classes). Then we would go grab my husband/Daddy, and all go to a park and have a picnic, or rent a canoe/kayak, or something similar.

    Sounds like fun – hmmm, think I’ll close now so I can work on finishing that to-do list!! Thanks for your emails; I enjoy them!

  44. on August 25, 2010

    Show a sincere interest in those that report to you and learn something new about them or their experiences.

  45. Robert Band
    on August 25, 2010

    Do whatever you want at that moment. If you want to reflect on how to grow your business or make it more efficient, do that. If you want to sit under a palm tree at Matheson Hammock and write, do that. If you want to have lunch with your friend Bob do that. The answer is that there isn’t any ONE thing you SHOULD do. Whatever it is you want to do at that moment is what you’ll do most effectively and will have the biggest payoff to you personally or professionally). For the happiest life, one should split their time equally between work, family and self. So if the scales are tipping towards work and family, do something for yourself. If the scales are tipping towards work and self, do something with or for your family. Thus, all three will stay in balance and make you a very happy man, rolling along, singing a song.

  46. Eblis Parera
    on August 25, 2010

    Alot of the suggestions are good, but again we are assuming you have finished your todo’s So we are not deciding what todo should be there or what priority they go in. You are done in other words work time investment is complete. At this point I recommend you spend time with activities and people that define to you the experience of living why we work in the first place. The things that if you were in your death bed you would remember and be glad you enjoyed after all you have earned it.

  47. on August 25, 2010

    Very intriguing post! Ala Thomas Edison, I have running experiments that I do each month. When I have completed my “to do’s,” I check in on my
    experiment. The experiment typically has something to do with an activity I’m involved in…it can be work-related or non-work related.

    I like doing these experiments because the represent a form of “discovery learning,” and hone my ability to deal with ambiguity. (A major part of creativity…)

    Here is an example of an experiment I’m currently running: How many business books have been published on the subject of collaboration? (I
    take a guess, write it in my notebook, and then proceed to affirm or blow my estimate out of the water.) I then hypothesize, “How many of these
    align with the principles Edison used…or are worth reading?” (I take a guess, write it in my notebook, then proceed to peel through the list.)

    Running experiments are a cool way to learn new things…and can be taken up or halted at anytime.

  48. on August 25, 2010

    Hey Bruce- here’s a little bit of advice from the yogis (I’m in Boulder this week so forgive me for getting all Vedic…).

    When you are done doing all your do’s, you should simply stand still. And do nothing. There you will find true peace. There is a real grace in doing nothing- and not that easy to do but perfect when you figure out how to just stand or sit still. It’s a very spiritual ideal but it’s extremely important and profound.

    Oh and here is an excerpt from “Eat Pray Love” that says it best, and may be the only phrase I have ever contemplated tattooing on my body. The Italians know what’s up- this need to be doing things all the time is decidedly American…check it out and hope you and your family are well:

    Americans don’t know how to do nothing. This is the cause of that great sad American stereotype – the overstressed executive who goes on vacation but who cannot relax.
    I once asked Luca Spaghetti if Italians on vacation have that same problem. He laughed so hard he almost drove his motorbike into a fountain.
    “Oh no!” he said. “We are masters of il bel far niente.”

    This is a sweet expression. Il bel far niente means “the beauty of doing nothing.” Now listen – Italians have traditionally always been hard workers, especially those long-suffering laborers known as braccianti (so called because they ahd nothing but the brute strength of their arms – braccie – to help them survive in the world). But even against that backdrop of hard work, il bel far niente has always been a cherished Italian ideal. The beauty of doing nothing is the goal of all your work, the final accomplishment for which you are most highly congratulated. The more exquisitely and delightfully you can do nothing, the higher your life’s achievement. You don’t necessarily need to be rich in order to experience this, either. There’s another wonderful Italian expression: l’arte d’arrangiarsi – the art of making something out of nothing. The art of turning a few simple ingredients into a feast, or a few gathered friends into a festival. Anyone with a talent for happiness can do this, not only the rich.

    XO. Be one with the nothingness.

  49. Chris Rehm
    on August 25, 2010

    Elementary, my dear Turkel! 😀 Hop in the car and point it south to the Keys!

  50. on August 25, 2010

    As far as your request and blog post below, it comes at a very interesting time. I’ve been very introspective about this topic over the last few months, specifically last week as I vacationed on Anna Maria Island with my wife and four daughters. I think the key is in your title where you mention the word “do” three times. I think that as a society we’re doing too much. In ancient Egypt, many people had a brick quota everyday seven days a week. They were doing so much but weren’t living or experiencing the true beauty of life. Clearly, our lives are very different and the quality far superior, but even as executives, we spend so much of our time like machines doing, doing and doing some more.

    Therefore, my suggestion is simple, take this time to stop and enjoy the wonder of life, our unexplainable world, the infinite universe, our families, friends and people, relish and appreciate our existence as human and spiritual beings each and every moment you can. We are a society so focused on doing, and the technology just makes us more slaves to doing more work, being on-demand, etc. Starting with me, I need to really step back and enjoy all the doing that everyone else, the world, the universe has created and done.

    In the end, we don’t take anything with us, so we should truly absorb all that we experience while we’re here, and we just can’t do that well if all we’re doing is doing.

    All the best

  51. al chisholm
    on August 25, 2010

    OK, OK….Karen. You’re right. You are absolutely right. I promise you that I will definitely put into action your suggestion as soon as I stop by the bank to make deposit.

    ps: my best regards to Dahl. Hope you’re both doing well.

  52. on August 25, 2010

    Good for you, you’re done… for now! Stop feeling guilty for that all too brief time you have between stuff…quit looking for some more work and do something fun, relaxing or nothing at all. Stuff will always be coming around the corner again. Got that?

  53. Diana S.
    on August 25, 2010

    1 – Travel – Whether it be for your own personal enjoyment or job-related, it could rejuvenate you. Travel to a never before visited destination, or to meet existing or acquire new clients. Another option is to take a day off to go for a walk on the beach and soak up some of your local surroundings.
    2- Mentor a child – You can volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters, or create an internship program for a high school student. Someone young can truly benefit from a professional experience.
    3- Go through your desk and reorganize your files/paperwork – You may find business cards of people you met that you’d like to contact or you may find ideas for new projects that you had to put aside.
    4- Last but not least, spend time with family and friends. They are the best support system and most inspiring.

  54. on August 25, 2010

    I use that time in the same spirit as Seth. To meaningfully interact with our people. Whether that be by walking around or electronic interaction. The important part is that it be meaningful and mostly about them.

  55. on August 25, 2010

    well done. You must have a lot of time on your hands to write these blogs. what do you do when you finished writing them?

  56. on August 25, 2010

    To do lists never end, Bruce! I keep a folder in my inbox and move emails, just like yours, into the box, to keep unharmed (ie deleted) until my to do list is complete! I read on and get new “dos” from you and others and plod along! I also keep a rolling to do list digitally – what I am working on now, what projects have recently been completed, and what is next in the list, so my mind, fingers and time are never completely idle! Don’t worry, I get down time away from the office, but as long as I am here, I keep the to do list alive!

  57. Rosa
    on August 25, 2010

    Hi! Bruce,

    Make a list or better yet, just think about people to whom you can say, “Thank You” and specify (no matter have big or small) that for which you are grateful… then say it! Some suggestions: your spouse, children, siblings, parents,friends, teachers/mentors, employer/employees, the janitor, the hotel maid, waitperson, busboy, running mates, events organizers, favorite radio show personality or producer, maybe even the doctor who did the surgery on Danny, etc. All I’m saying is that sometimes we forget to show gratitude to the very people who have made it possible to live the life we live (including one where we finish our “to-do’s” and wonder what’s next)!

    I know MY to-do list seems endless and creating yet another list…well…still, I am trying to do this daily (not make a list, but express gratitude). I did it at Disney and was amazed to hear, from the woman cleaning the ladies room at the resort’s main building, that no guest had ever thanked her for just being there! She had such a big smile on her face and then thanked ME!

    But I knew it was her, and the others “behind the scenes”, who made our experience there (from a clean room to the immaculate streets of the Magic Kingdom) so enjoyable. It was so easy to just touch someone on the arm and say, “Thank you for being here and for what you do”. Wouldn’t YOU like to hear it sometimes, too?

    THANK YOU, Bruce! For sharing your thoughts and bits of your life with me. I value your insight and humor and (most of all) your extension of friendship to Don and me. XO-Rosa

  58. on August 25, 2010


    I “TO DON’T”





  59. on August 26, 2010

    You’re kidding, right? I have never finished my list of to-do’s.

  60. Marya Meyer
    on August 26, 2010

    Hi Bruce–Here is a good thing to do when you have finished your “to dos”–log on to GLG and see if there is a project you have expertise in and apply to consult. Whether you find the right fit or not, it is stimulating to see the trends of what Financiers are interested in.

    I just recommended you for one:)

  61. david whitaker
    on August 26, 2010

    I call the people I love.

    Bruce, if you haven’t heard from me in a while it’s because I’ve been busy.

  62. on August 28, 2010

    Talk to your wife. You’ll see that there are things on your “To-Do” list that have been overlooked. At least that’s how it is in my household.

  63. on August 28, 2010

    Read this book: The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal


    I believe the authors have an answer to your question. Or at least it is beginning to work for me.

  64. on August 28, 2010

    With a bow to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done,” keep a “Someday/Maybe” list: even if items on there are complex/lomg-term, you can take a step along the way. One of mine is “see the polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba.” I’ve gotten as far as researching tour companies and making a budget, which increases the eager anticipation – and the chance I’ll actually do it! If it weren’t on that list, it would still be a complete fantasy. You can put many of those short-term goals others have suggested on the list, too.

  65. Janice Gates
    on August 28, 2010

    I start a new to do list….

  66. Richard Babboni
    on August 28, 2010

    We are all so worried about doing! Have we done enough, can we be doing more now, what can we do next???
    How about letting go of worrying about doing and just being??

  67. on August 28, 2010

    How about writing a list of “Fun things to do when I have finished everything else”

    Then you have a list to refer to. Best to do this when you are swamped so you can remind yourself of the other things you’d LIKE to be doing.

    Also, how about reading the news and catching up. Follow sites like this one for what’s new and happening:’

  68. on August 28, 2010

    Commune with nature. Turn OFF all the electronics, go outside and do something alone with nature (Self-Reliance). Works every time, regardless of the activity! (Preferably get deep enough into nature that you cannot see any other humans or human activity/structures.)

  69. Vilma
    on August 28, 2010

    Make a food scrap smoothie for my rose bush. Each time I do it, I get 4 roses back.

    Go for a 5-mile run, do Pilates for 10 minutes and yoga for 30.

    Sit down (or stand up) and stare into space, usually outside. Every time I do, I catch a glimpse of cardinals, blue jays or skirrels in action or, when it’s the season, a hummingbird is coming to visit its feeder.

    Yes, you got it, take a nap.

    Look for things I want to buy on eBay and Craigslist.

    Watch pre-recorded eposides of my favorite doctor shows: “Dr. Oz” and “Dr. G”. The latter has nothing to do with a certain spot.

    Go to Greece for a month, not running a single mile, and drinking ouzo.

  70. Henry Martinez
    on August 29, 2010

    Though I never feel my list is ever done, I either do some good old fashioned MBWA (management by walking around) if I am in the office or take personal time to just plain Relax and hang with family and friends.

  71. Bonnie Blitz
    on August 30, 2010

    I just wanted to respond and give you my feedback on the question “What do you do when you’ve finished your to dos?’ As an experienced manager in various healthcare settings for many years, I have often thought about this question. Personally, I have devised a system that works well for me and ensures that I do not encounter this problem or at least not very often.

    I have several constantly changing “to do” lists, that I maintain in order to ensure I address all of the items I want to complete /achieve, and would be nice lists.

    First I divide “to dos” into professional and personal.
    Then I have 3 categories under each – Current “to dos”, Monthly/future “to dos”, and Would be nice “to dos”.

    Current list – comprises items that have a short completion time frame.
    Monthly/Future list – comprises items as the title suggests, have an approximate month completion time frame
    Would be nice list – does not have a completion time frame.

    Current: check in with employees to see if they need help, follow up on questions gathered during rounding.
    Monthly – Complete rounding on employees, update stop light goal form
    Would be nice – research Studer website for more ideas/suggestions

    These lists are used as a reference/suggestion guide for me. They are updated as needed and take very little time to maintain. If I don’t get to complete all of the items on the lists, that’s ok as they are just a personal reference suggestion guides.

    Thank you for the thought question.

  72. Herb Ross
    on August 30, 2010

    Obviously we are never finished with our dos. When we are doing nothing we are still doing, our minds are always going, so we are doing thinking, listening of some sort, if we attain total stillness we become Zen masters, doing Zen.

    My best friend Buzzy died recently, Zachary who was five at the time heard us talking about Buzzy and from across the room in a loud clear voice he said; “Buzzy’s dead, he’s not doing anything anymore” from the mouths of Babes.

    Herb Ross

  73. on September 2, 2010

    If you find yourself with no TODO list…take a quick 3 minutes and jot down and quick TODO…think of the first 5 things that come to mind….let your mind move out to other people..can you help someone ..get closer to your business mind, get closer to their health goal, improve the demenor in your office or your home. make someone smile that you helped them… do one item, make a call, donate time or money, get up and talk to someone in your office…when you do this item your mind will be ready for your next task…but with a breath of fresh air! thanks!

  74. Kari Geck
    on September 2, 2010

    When done with todo list: Breathe deep, put on some music or not, go outside, get a breathe of fresh air, sit by lake or serene location, look @ Stars, give thanks, think or pray for those that are gone, you miss or are less fortunate than you & Count your blessings…you are now grounded at peace with yourself & remembered those who have physically been taken from you but spiritually you’ve reconnected with. PEACE! DOWN to earth…

  75. Karen
    on September 13, 2010

    Sorry for the delayed reply – was busy with my to do’s… Curious to know what you currently do when you’ve finished everything?

  Leave a Reply

CAPTCHA ImageReload Image

  • Follow Bruce on the Web

  • Most Recent Comments

  • Archives