Achieve Success with Conscious Abandonment

Lisa Criley-Mallis, , time strategy visionary, SystemSavvy Consulting, LLC

You look at your lengthy to-do list and think, “What would happen if I didn’t get any of this done? Will completing these tasks get me closer to my goals?  OR are these just ‘things to do’?”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that because you have identified a task and written it on your to-do list, or in your head, or on a Post-It note, or scribbled on a scrap of paper, it is important and must be completed.

However, that isn’t always true!

Sometimes that best thing you can do is decide to abandon the task or project.  Understand, though, there is a difference between a task “falling through the cracks” and “consciously deciding to abandon” a task.

The difference rests in your intent.  In the first example, you “meant” to do the task, but somehow it just fell off your radar. In the second example, you DECIDED the task wasn’t important enough to complete.  Reactive vs. Proactive!

Ask yourself: Is this task directly related to a goal and worthy of my time and attention?

  1. Review your goals.  Each task should connect back to your goals for the year.  
  2. Scrutinize each task.  Decide which goal each task supports.  If the task doesn’t directly relate to a goal mark it with an “*”.
  3. Make decisions.  For each task that has an “*” on it, ask yourself what the value of completing the task is.  If you decide the task is important, you may need to add a corresponding goal to your list.  Or, you may need to decide to abandon (i.e. delete) the task.  If it doesn’t relate to a goal, why do it?

Seems like a pretty simple concept – spend your time on tasks that are directly related to your goals, and delete the rest.  Once you cull through your task list – it should be pretty smooth sailing. Right? Not necessarily.

What happens tomorrow, when you have new items for your to-do list? One way to handle this is to strategically omit items before you even write them down – if you don’t, the most bare bones task list will start to expand after a few weeks.  If the task doesn’t relate directly to a goal you previously set, don’t put it on the list.

It can be hard to overcome the habit of writing down every task you identify!  But when you schedule time to review your task list regularly and use the steps above weekly you can stay in control.

When you use your goals as your lens to determine what you want to focus on, determine the tasks that correlate to those goals, and abandon the rest, successful completion of your goals is guaranteed.

Lisa Crilley Mallis, time strategy visionary, combines her experience in education and coaching with her love of schedules, systems, and time management to create personalized and easy to implement solutions. Every person deserves the opportunity to live the life of their dreams feeling in control and bringing balance into their lives.  The crazy, “I’m so busy” feeling does not have to be way of life.   You can live a life where every day is productive, rewarding, and fun!

Lisa is also the author of Your Time. Your Life:  The Busy Woman’s Guide to Simplify Your Day and 30 Days to Success:  An A.W.E. Inspired Journal. 

She lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio with her husband Lou and his dog, Neuton.  She loves chocolate, the beach, and country music.  Contact Lisa at