The ‘I HAVE To’ List

I’ve experimented with a tonne of productivity tools and processes. I’ve taken deep dives with each of the following programs:

And what I’ve found is that there are some common concepts that are shared between them. Each of them implements their own unique strategy towards concepts like prioritization, organization, and execution. They each have their own twist or approach to tackling your to do lists, your dreams, your goals, and life all around.

But for some reason, none of these systems really made things better for me. I noticed that I was busier but I wasn’t really better. I started to notice each system had it’s own little flaw that always seemed to suck all the life out of the process and before long I’d had abandoned it. The Burnout was real…



I do think that they are each worth learning about and attempting. I see each of these systems as a small stepping stone in my pursuit of accomplishment and I don’t discredit them. However, they haven’t (or I haven’t) improved my life with any of these strategies.

So I invented my own… and I call it the “I HAVE To…” list.

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You see the problem I kept running into with each of these systems was that I would always end up getting them over-loaded. Some systems ask you to capture all your thoughts and organize them into quadrants or process each item and prioritize it. Backlog items that aren’t important and break down tasks that are bigger.

For me though, not only did I have all of the normal stuff to do like my goals, and tasks, but I had an enormous amount of day-to-day shit that I needed to get done. Dishes, dinner, cold lunches, homework, sports, diapers, practices, tests, doctor visits, home repairs, and the list goes on…

I would be forced to either try to keep up on all of these items in my head or write them all down into the system. Then I would have to organize them, prioritize them, backlog them, break the bigger ones down… and damn was it time consuming.

I decided that maybe these strategies just weren’t meant for me and I set out on researching how other, already successful people manage their lives. I’m not talking successful people that are just working a great job and appear successful on social media. No, I’m talking full blown, massively successful people like Arnold Schwarzenegger (5x Mr Universe, 7x Mr. Olympia, numerous Hollywood Blockbusters, and Governor of California), Dwayne Johnson (won the NCAA Championship, 20 year WWE career and became known as, “The Rock”, wrote a #1 Best Seller as voted by the New York Times, Hollywood movies, and the recent purchase of the XFL), and Elon Musk (founded PayPal, founded SpaceX, became CEO of Tesla, revolutionized electric vehicles, and launched rockets into space).

And I started researching how these guys go about their lives. How they operate on a daily bases to reach these audacious achievements. What I found was that they all had one major difference in the way they approached their lives on a regular basis. While the rest of us are sitting around saying, “I should workout, I should eat better, I should quit smoking, I should spend more time with my kids, I should, I should, I should…

But these guys, they don’t say anything like that. These guys are so driven, so motivated and focused, that when they talk about their days, they don’t say anything close to what we say. They say things like, “I HAVE to get my workout in, I HAVE to stick to this diet, I HAVE to design this product, I HAVE to build this vehicle, I HAVE to spend time with my family, I HAVE to, I HAVE to, I HAVE to.”

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And the reason they feel that way, the reason they say that they, “HAVE” to do something is because they have powerful “WHY’s” and they repeat them to themselves every single day, over-and-over. So I took this concept and I laid it out for my goals. I figured out what I really wanted and what my “Why” was. Then I took each of my Goals and Why’s and I wrote my “I HAVE To” list.

This “I HAVE To” list works just like a normal to do list except it represents what you absolutely HAVE to do on this day to achieve your goal. If you can’t get these items checked off then you need to rethink your goal or rethink your WHY. This list contains only items from your Goals and you HAVE to do each item. If anything gets completed today, it HAS GOT TO BE THESE ITEMS ON THIS LIST.

I sit down each night, just before bed, look at my Goals, read over my Why’s, and write my “I HAVE To…” list. If you’ve been struggling with productivity or found that some of the more popular programs haven’t worked for you. I challenge you to give the, “I HAVE To…” list a try and let me know how it works for you!

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