If you feel like your to-do list is full of items that simply fulfill tasks other people have hoisted on you and not enough items that fulfill your own goals, writer and entrepreneur Scott Scheper suggests examining your proactive-to-reactive task ratio.
As Scheper defines them, proactive tasks are "those that are driven by your goals"; reactive tasks are "those that are driven by others". His claimed secret to a good to-do list:Your goal should be to balance out your tasks so that 20% are spent on reactive tasks, and 80% are spent on proactive tasks.
Reactive tasks will make you a living, proactive tasks will make you successful. The advice makes sense in theory (hit up his full post for a more detailed examination), but in practice it's difficult to control the speed at which those reactive tasks rain down. Scheper offers tips for carrying out what he refers to as the "to-do list secret" using various tools that are staples among most Lifehacker readers, but it's still worth a read, especially if you feel like you're spending more time on reactive tasks than you'd like.
Got your own methods for keeping your proactive-to-reactive task ratio in check so you're making progress on the things you really care about?