What’s right and wrong with having only 3 things on your todo list

I keep seeing this recommendation to only have 3 things on your to-do list a day.

The first time I remember seeing it I wondered if this person spent A LOT of time in meetings and had extremely little time to do anything else.

After all, a VERY common piece of productivity advice around to-do lists is to break things down into individual tasks. In other words, don’t have projects on your to-do list.

So, if you’ve broken your projects into individual tasks, how is it possible that someone would recommend to only have three tasks to accomplish each day?

Again, are they spending A LOT of time in meetings?

What I found is when someone recommends having only 3 things on your to-do list, what they actually mean is to have 3 small projects or 3 large tasks.

A small project might be “write blog post.” This is a small project and not a large task because there are multiple steps to it. Generally, you’re going to write the blog post, create/find an image for it, edit it, add it to your blog, schedule an email with it to go out, and create/schedule social media posts about it.

That’s a small project.

Your three things in a day might be: 1) write blog post, 2) go to networking meeting, and 3) have client meeting (or do client work).

I don’t disagree with having three small projects or large tasks each day. I think that’s probably a good goal.

But there are still some things missing.

  1. They’re not clear that they don’t mean individual tasks
  2. They’re not including the things you do on a daily basis like checking and replying to email, business social media check-ins, phone calls, or planning.

Even though they say to only have 3 things on your to-do list, that’s not really accurate.

The guideline of having three small projects or large tasks on your to-do list each day is good. But also remember to have the steps for the small project written down too AND the things you do daily.