Do you make to-do lists? If so, stop. They don’t work.
According to Janet Choi and Walter Chen, 41% of your to-do list items don’t get done and those that do, don’t correlate with what you set out to do. 
I can relate. Like most people, every weekday, I would write down my five most important tasks for the day. But every evening, when I did my daily review, the items I had completed were not only non-essential, but also different to what I had written down in the morning.
How does that happen?
I would feel disappointed because I had not made headway with my goals and I would lose momentum.
That is until I read James Altucher’s new book, The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth, and was introduced to having themes instead.
Let me explain.
The Problem with To-Do Lists
“Abundance only comes when you are moving along your themes – when you are truly enhancing the lives of the people around you”
– James Altucher.
The problem with to-do lists is that they are very goal orientated and come with a number of disadvantages.
They can cause anxiety. The basis of a to-do list is to list everything that you have or need to do, but have not yet done. And until you can tick something off, you feel stressed.
They don’t highlight importance. Many items on our to-do lists are, as I mentioned before, non-essential. Return Ted’s email. Buy milk. Reorganise garage. These tasks don’t excite us, and for that reason, they don’t motivate us to achieve them.
We don’t know what should be on it. Should we prioritise our meeting with Jess before we have cleared our inbox or after? Should we say yes to working overtime now and then think of an excuse to say no, or have an excuse prepared before? These kinds of insignificant decisions cause decision fatigue and when that happens, we stop doing the right things.
They can cause disappointment. Let’s face it, unless your items are easy to complete, you are never going to do all the things on your to-do list. Most of us put too much on our to-do lists anyway.
The solution? Decide what your themes are.
Make a Themes List
“When you have themes”, writes Altucher, “you build unbelievable intuition on what is the next thing you should be doing in your life”. 
Themes are essentially doing things that are important to you. Being creative. Being healthy. Being loving. Being grateful. Being process-orientated. Being expressive. Etc.
And by having daily themes in your life – behaviours you’re committed to honouring – you always do what is important to you, your family and your friends, and so on.
Themes aren’t things you have or need to do; they’re things you choose to do. You get to do them. How fortunate are you?
By having themes, you end up doing things that you never would have guessed were important to you, that never would have made a to-do list.
One of my highest themes is self-expression, but who wants to write that in a to-do list? Something like that is better left to spontaneity.
One day I saw a girl I wanted to express myself to because I had to compliment her. She was beautiful. I’m grateful I did. She’s now my wife!
Create a list of themes for your life. And then do the next thing that’s important to you. How do you want your life to look? Themes will help you answer that question.
Be creative and write a blog post. Be self-amusing and make a playful observation to a stranger. Be loving and surprise your spouse. You never know where it might take you – and whom it might serve.
I have no idea where my themes will lead me to today (one has lead me to my local library to write), but I hope at least one of them (this article) serves you in some way.
I want to thank everyone who completed my reader survey on Thursday. Your comments were extremely helpful (and in some cases, downright hilarious) so thank you for that.
I will be contacting the winner of the competition, privately, on Thursday, so remember to check your inbox. If you don’t receive an email, don’t fret: there will be more competitions in the future.
Thank you again for participating.
 Choi, J, and Chen, W. (2014) The Busy Person’s Guide to the Done List: The Science of Small Wins, USA: iDoneThis.
 Altucher, J. (2015) The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth, USA: CreateSpace.