The Yes List: Finding Meaning in the “To Do” List (Guest Blog by Amy Gaines)

The following blog post is part of the Bennis Blogger Battle. Support Amy by “Liking” this post, leaving a comment and sharing it on your social media! The blog with the most hits, wins.


to-do-listIn a recent battle with the ever-growing To Do List, the relationship between completing TDL tasks and building a personal brand developed new meaning: that of being a concrete, comprehensive, collected list of commitments.

Commitments are just that – something we have committed to complete by saying “Yes.” When we complete these tasks, our integrity, trustworthiness, and personal marketability increases because our word turned into our action.

And yet, maintaining the perspective that every item on that list is an opportunity to grow and improve our personal brand takes work. It takes work to guard the items to which we commit, work to keep track of those commitments, work to follow through on those commitments, and work to give 100% of our effort to those commitments. And in the midst of all that work, the tie between our word and our action is easily buried.

However, investing in the effort needed to maintain that perspective reaps significant benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the work involved in building your personal brand by making your word equal your action.

Guarding the TDL

If we are quick to say yes to everything, our commitments become unruly. Even high performers that churn through tasks quickly will eventually be overrun by an unkempt TDL. Learning to say “no” to certain commitments creates an opportunity to limit what goes on your TDL and allows you to focus on specific tasks. Good guidelines for identifying what goes on the TDL include: basic job responsibilities, direct requests from managers, [your] special interest projects, and personal favors.

Organizing the TDL

Many, many resources exist for taking and maintaining stock of commitments on the TDL. A personal favorite is the “Getting Things Done” series by David Allen. Regardless of the method, keeping track of the madness is mandatory.

Acting on the TDL

Break your commitments into actions and act. Keep stock of the resources you need to act on your commitments. Analyze the time a commitment will require before adding it to your TDL to ensure you have the time to complete the actions needed to follow through with the commitment. Above all else, learn to take your word (your commitments) and turn it into action.

Shifting our perspective to recognize the direct connection between our word/our actions and our personal brand is crucial to both success and sanity [especially in the professional world]. Recognizing this connection reminds us of the meaning and importance of each and every task on our TDL because that task is ultimately linked to a commitment. Completing our commitments sets a foundation of integrity for our personal brand that gives us added encouragement and footing to move forward successfully.


Amy GainesAmy Gaines is a functional software consultant in the higher education industry. Her specialties include recruiting, admissions, and enrollment management. She loves to travel, read and write, and chase a thought to completion. Helping customers improve their processes, efficiency and reporting gives her the most satisfaction. Please support Amy by “Liking” this post, leaving a comment below and visiting her personal blog “This Imperfect Life” at

4 thoughts on “The Yes List: Finding Meaning in the “To Do” List (Guest Blog by Amy Gaines)

  1. I am obsessive with my time management and organizational skills. I’m glad that society realizes we must take control and make decisions about our priorities and true abilities to complete tasks.

    Also, one of the psychology experiements I am participating in for college involves the concept that there is no such thing as Time Management; there is self management which results in effective use of our time. You cannot manage time, but you can manage how you use it.

    Happy posting, Amy!

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