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Have you ever noticed that the longer your daily to-do list, the harder it is to get it done? It's not necessarily because of the sheer number of things to do...  

Seven is an important number for the brain: It's the maximum number of items that fit in your short-term memory. Add more items, and you start to have overflow: since the short-term memory cannot store more than 7 items, either it has to drop some to make room for the new (i.e. forget), or store some in the long-term memory, which is a time-intensive process, worth it only for the things that you really want to keep in memory for a while. At the macro level, overflow translates into forgetting things (sometimes even when they're in writing), a feeling of loss of control (you can't keep everything in memory, and you don't necessarily control how your brain chooses to forget); overwhelm (more items than you can handle).  

That's one of the reasons why local phone numbers have 7 digits - you can easily remember them long enough to dial the number, and you already know the area code.  

That's also why your daily to-do list should have no more than 7 items on it. As soon as you have more - and it doesn't matter whether the list is in your head or on paper, your brain doesn't make the difference - you experience overflow, with all of its negative consequences.  

In today's world, it might seem completely unrealistic to have a daily to-do list with just 7 items on it. Yet look at your to-do lists: Unless your to-do's are all extremely short tasks, chances are that you indeed complete no more than 7 tasks in a usual day.  

Now, this doesn't mean that each task is a simple thing. For instance, you are probably getting more than 7 to-do's in your list just with the calls you need to make. But in this process, tasks such as running errands or making a series of phone calls count as one task, because they make a logical whole that your brain can easily keep in memory as one item: errands, or phone calls.  

So look at you to-do list for today. How many items does it really have on it? How can you reduce your list to seven items? Do this process, and you'll find that your stress goes down drastically.  

Yours in [Link Removed]

PS: From now on, once a month, I will hold a Q&A session via the comments section of each post. So on the 15th of every month, feel free to ask me any question you have, and I’ll answer it within 24 hours.

Karin, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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