Don’t Fall into the To-Do List Trap

If you’re like most consultants, you cross items off your to-do list every day. But have you stopped to consider that you might be too efficient for your own good? Have you ever thought that the to-do list is a trap that lulls you into believing that you’re productive when you’re really just doing busy work?

You need instead that produces results and propels your business toward the vision that you have for it. It’s not just getting things done, but getting things done that matter done. How do you do that? Take lateral action!

Bloggers Mark McGuinness, Brian Clark, and Tony Clark, define lateral action, in their new
blog site by that name, as the intersection of creativity and productivity. It means taking innovative action that makes a difference.

So, don’t just pat yourself on the back for crossing off yet another to-do list item. Seriously ask yourself if your actions are really bringing you the kind of income you want, or creating a business that truly fulfills you.

Write out each day’s to-do list the night before. Review it before going to bed. Make sure that at least one item is an action leading directly to your larger goal. If you’re not sure, start at the end. What do you want to achieve? Then work backward from there to figure out what you need to do to get those results.' About Cheryl Chow

Writer, Editor, Translator (Japanese/Chinese to English), specializing in Health and Fitness. Owner of My Cat is My Therapist site, exploring the health benefits of the human-animal bond.


  1. Excellent post. Has given me a concrete way to improve my day-to-day activities. Thanks very much, Cheryl

  2.' Cheryl Chow says

    Thanks, Dana! Appreciate your comment. Very pleased to hear that this was helpful.

  3.' Dana Prieur says


    This is exactly what I needed to hear. I just finished creating a new To Do List on Excel and I can see how we so easily get caught up in the busy stuff and although we have many things crossed off our to do list, we are still no where near our goal or seeing the results we should be seeing. You’re absolutely right Cheryl, we need to concentrate more on the actions that make our business grow. I will definitely update my to do list and add an action plan section, thanks for helping me move closer to achieving my goals. I look forward to learning about “lateral action” and now I’m off now to get things done that matter done!

    Make it a great day!

    Dana Prieur

  4. So glad to hear that this post was helpful to you. It’s so easy to fall into the To Do List trap. People can also get caught in the trap of finding more Productivity tools and creating new systems — fun to do, but not the things that truly matter.


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