One small edit to my To Do list helped me complete more things.

2 min readFeb 1, 2023

I’m a compulsive To Do List maker. Every week I set up the week ahead, and part of it is a list of all of the To Dos that have plagued me since last week, plus all the ones ahead for this week.

Recently, I changed the word “TO DO” to “COMMITMENTS” to indicate that this wasn’t just a hope, it was a commitment.

Your To Do List is actually a list of commitments, if you treat it that way.

If it was going on the list, I was committing to it. To myself, to another person, or to our company.

The result? The list got smaller, and the work got done.

Turning my weekly plan into a list of commitments reframed the work I’m doing, and gave each item just a little more gravity. Now, I think twice before adding to the list, so that each item on it is a commitment I can keep.

It works with meeting follow-ups and action steps too. At your next meeting, before leaving, try making a list of COMMITMENTS. Ask:

  1. What is the work we’re committing to do?
  2. Who is making the commitment?
  3. When should we expect this commitment to be complete?

The result may very well be fewer items on the “action steps” list. But there’s a lot better chance that they’ll actually get done.




Founder and CEO of Alpaca. Goals Nerd, Spreadsheet Enthusiast, and Runner.