Two Simple Steps to Clearing the Backlog

Most of us work hard to keep up with the current demands of others. New things come into our world as we finish up existing items.

But the greatest struggle is getting all of those “other to-dos” done. Most of the backlog items aren’t mission critical, which is how they became backlogged. Yet, accomplishing them moves the satisfaction needle more than anything else we do.

Here’s a two-step process that effectively clears away the backlog.


Backlog projects often seem harder and more complex than they actually are. That’s from the psychological back pressure that builds up every day the project remains undone. The pressure release valve for backlogged projects is called chunking and here’s how it’s done:

  • Set aside three minutes.
  • Pick a backlogged project.
  • Make a quick list of the steps to completing the project.
  • Take a look at the steps and consider how doable it is.

That’s it. Chunking is easy and now the backlogged project seems more manageable than it did three minutes ago.

Today’s One Thing

With the back pressure off, we now need to find time to get the actual work done to complete the project. That’s where the Today’s One Thing trick comes into play: First thing every morning, select one of the steps of one of the backlogged projects and commit to getting just that one step done.

Keeping the effort small and doable is the key to getting Today’s One Thing done. The aggregated effect of this incremental effort results in the backlog going down over time.

Two Small Things Reduce Backlog

Work will continue to flow in throughout our careers. Getting both the current and backlogged projects accomplished is the key to a successful practice.

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