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Why I Only Keep Five Items On My To Do List

Limit your To Do list and be more productive

A year ago I was in my hairdressers on a Friday with my laptop out moving through my To Do list as my hair colour processed. Next to me sat a woman, let’s call her Marion, who looked over to me and made a comment along the lines of ‘There’s always something to do, hey?” – clearly observing my furrowed brows as I was focussing on something business related.

We started chatting and I noticed Marion had a slight speech impediment and sparkly eyes, the hairdressers in the salon clearly knew her well and she was the life of the salon while she was there. Marion spoke to me about how her and her husband previously ran two transport businesses. There was always something to do, payroll to make, sales to close, logistics to work through.

Marion then went on to tell me that, around 5 years ago, her ‘head exploded’. Quite literally. Marion had a stroke whereby her brain imploded and as a result underwent considerable rehabilitation wearing a head and neck brace for many months. My hairdresser told me after the fact that Marion would come into the salon, still full of life and energy, with the head brace and they would carefully trim her fringe so she could see. Something tells me Marion loved the connection and social interaction that came with visiting the salon regularly.

Marion went on to tell me she has a grown son and the highlight of her week now is his Wednesday night visits where he joins her and her husband at their dinner table for a meal. Marion’s eyes sparkled when she told me details about her son. It was affirming that despite such tragedy she was able to see the best in life and live it accordingly.

Five things are all you need


As we wrapped up our discussion and Marion’s hair was blow dried, she got up from her chair to leave the salon, looked me squarely in the eye so deep it felt as though she was looking into my soul. Holding up five fingers, ‘Rachel’, she said, ‘Five things are all you need on your To Do list. As you complete one thing, add another one, but never have more than five things on your list.”

Marion went on to explain that she was acutely aware that her stroke was brought on from the stress of running her businesses. Marion felt she was often overwhelmed with To Do lists that were too long and unachievable. Needless to say I no longer take my laptop to the hairdressers.

Keep a simple, focussed To Do list and more can be accomplished

Rachel Kidwell

As a Founder of a business, this clearly resonated with me and is relevant to many other colleagues who are forging the same path. Recently I was asked at a Proptech panel discussion by a member of the audience how do we deal with the overwhelm of all there is to do on any given day. My standard response now is the ‘Five Things To Do’ approach. Keep a simple, focused To Do list and more can be accomplished.