The Art of Not Staying Busy

How to de-clutter your to-do list

Teodora Pirciu
4 min readFeb 6, 2021


Image by Tumisu

Reality check: you like being busy. We all do. We live in a “busy culture” in which drowning in work is a way to appear successful, meaningful, and productive.

The more you can fill your day with stuff to do, the better it makes you feel about yourself. And the less you accomplish. It’s the busyness paradox: when you’re busy, you panic and feel the time is scarce. Your ability to focus narrows and you enter the tunnel where immediate, low-value tasks capture all your attention. There’s no long-term vision, no planning, and overall, no growth.

So, how do you stop being busy?

1) Write down what you need to accomplish each day

I’m a big fan of the old to-do list. This way, “I have so much to do” becomes a list that includes a specific number of tasks. When you write it all down, you have a clear image of what needs to be done. It helps you visualize your day. Moreover, you have the chance, to be honest with yourself: if you have twenty tasks on the list, it might be wiser to rethink the entire day and develop a new, more realistic plan.

Ideally, you want to write your to-do list the evening before. Before calling it a day, take five or ten minutes to plan for tomorrow. This exercise helps you stay organized and start every day with a clear mind.

2) Prioritize

When you have too many tasks on your list, go for what matters the most. Here are two things to keep in mind in the first weeks of doing this exercise:

  • Twice a week, try to eliminate one time-consuming task from your daily routine— anything that can be outsourced, postponed, or delegated. It’ll give you more time to focus on what makes the difference in your business. After a few weeks, your to-do list will look different, allowing you to accomplish more in less time.
  • Put the essential tasks first. If it’s burning or impacts your bottom line, make it a top priority. There’s no meaning in filling the most productive hours of your day with work that barely impacts your results. If you don’t make this change, when you finally arrive at the essential things, you’re already tired and can’t stay focused on…



Teodora Pirciu

Writer, mother, journalist, content marketer, day-dreamer, chocolate lover, freelancer. Not necessarily in this order.