After you’ve crossed everything off that didn’t pass any of the Machete questions, circle in the lucky survivors. Whatever’s left on your list should have four big yeses:
- You have the power to do it.
- You are the only one who can do it.
- It has to be done because it’s important.
- It has to be done now.
At the end of the process, you might find that there are categories that have a lot of tasks, others that have a handful of tasks, and yet others where no task survived.
Whatever the case, you will see that not everything will fit into your life right now. There will always be areas which get a stronger focus and others that receive less attention. Either way, this is what your life looks like right now in terms of priorities. As for the long term, you can reflect on whether you’re happy with the current balance (or imbalance) of life areas.
For the short term, though, you now know the final version of what your task list is for now. This list can now serve as a baseline on which you can start building your schedule. Plus, you now know exactly which of the surviving items you should get to first, and you can work your way down the list from there.
Bonus tip: If tasks keep creeping back onto your plate, do this
Even if you cut down your to-do list massively, your life may be such that tasks just keep coming back in huge volumes.
If that’s the case, use the Machete questions as a quick check-in for yourself before allowing anything new onto your plate. When a task arrives, remember the questions (can I give this to someone else; is it important; is it urgent) and evaluate.
You can also write yourself a priority list as a reminder. What are the three most important aspects of your life right now? Select your highest-priority life areas (eg. Your health, your livelihood, and your children), and whichever incoming task serves these gets priority over whatever serves something or someone else.
These will help deter more things from piling up while you take care of your current list.
How often should you use the Machete Sorting Technique?
At the end of the day, the Machete Technique helps you introduce flexibility into dealing with your tasks.
Having mastered looking at your schedule through these simple filters of importance, delegability and urgency, then on good days and with no overwhelm, you’ll be able to automatically sort through your tasks. “This one is important”, “I need to make this call soon”, “this task first then that comes after”, “I don’t need to do that right now”, and so on.
On some days, you might not even have to write a to-do list at all, because you can manage it all in your head. Other days you’ll find that outsourcing your thoughts onto paper is the best way to determine the order of things.
But do use the Machete Technique every time you
- start to feel that you can’t keep up with your tasks,
- start to feel the approaching panic about the amount of things on your plate
- just don’t know where to start.
In any of these cases, get your piece of paper, your colouring tools, and spend 10-15 minutes going through the questions.
That said, this method is not something you should (or even can) use every day. Use it too often, and the Machete will turn into just another way to procrastinate. :)
Oh, and before I sign off, one last thing.
Don’t be an info-hamster!
At the end of this guide, having read about the Machete Technique and how to do it, I urge you not to tick the “done” box in your head without even trying it out.
This might be tempting, but be honest, how many of the “How fun! I’ll do it later” things on your Pinterest board have you actually done? Don’t just add this to the pile.
If you know you’re the type of person who likes to download all the helpful techniques but then not do them because reading them should do the trick, don’t let your mind fool you into becoming an info-hamster.
This information is not for hoarding.
It’s for doing.
Implementing is key – the technique that will help you the most is the one you actually do.
So give yourself ten to fifteen minutes, get that piece of paper, start your to-do brain dump and then use the three Machete questions to cut your task list down.
I guarantee you that you will feel a sense of relief, like the thousands of people before you who have used this method have. Imagine, in less time than a Parks and Recreation episode you can feel like this.
Change will only come if you take action.
I’m very excited to hear about what remains at the end of your big to-do list cutdown.
I’m also here and happy to help if you feel stuck with any of the steps.
Either way, click here and let me know how you did. I can’t wait to hear from you. :)