I’m from the Deep South so I grew up with a plant called Kudzu. It’s originally from Japan and was a carefully cultivated ground cover. Unfortunately, the US began to import it to stop erosion, especially along roads and rail lines. What no one foresaw is that in the humid, warm climate of the South, kudzu would go crazy. Today, even though people try to kill it, it keeps coming back—consuming entire forests and houses.

Regardless of how it got here, kudzu is a lesson in productivity. Tasks multiply as fast as kudzu and are just as hard to kill. Even when you kill some off, they come back. We are never short of things to do.

So how do we handle this? Two thoughts.

First, never give up. Regularly go through your to-do list and kill stuff off. Jim Collins is famous for the idea of a “stop doing list.” I agree. At least quarterly, if not monthly, determine the things you simply won’t do anymore.

Second, practice “ruthless essentialism.” Greg McKeown wrote a book on this topic (Essentialism) in which he advocates for the “vital few.” I would tell you that both words need to be amplified. What is VITAL? Not as much as you think. How many is FEW? Less than you think.

Keep your sanity. Boost your productivity. Don’t let kudzu win!

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