Corey Wilks, Psy.D.

Helping Creators Reach Their Potential

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The Needle Movers List

The to-do list is dead.

Finishing a to-do list is like fighting the mythical hydra—for every task you cross off, two rise in its place.

To-do list templates are everywhere, but they only make the monster stronger. Because it doesn’t matter how sophisticated your to-do list system is if it’s never-ending.

The Needle Movers List is the future.

Here’s why it’s a better strategy and how to create your own…


What is a Needle Movers List?

Time is your most precious resource.

I used to drown in a never-ending to-do list strewn between dozens of Post-It notes, calendar reminders, and whatever trendy software promised a management solution.

All this system did was keep me constantly running from one task to another without any sense of relief.

I waste hours each week trying to “optimize” my to-do list system, but I always felt behind, no matter how many boxes I checked off.

One day, I’d had enough optimizing, researching better systems, and keeping track of everything. 

So I asked myself, What are the 1-3 tasks most worth my time and move the needle the furthest?

Thus, the Needle Movers List was born.


How to Create a Needle Movers List

The Needle Movers List is simple: What are your 1-3 highest ROI tasks?

Every day or week, I write down the most important things I need to get done.

All my time, energy, and attention go into the Needle Movers List.

If I finish them and have more in the tank to tackle lower ROI tasks, cool.

If I finish them and don’t have more in the tank, then I’ve still massively succeeded.

The Needle Movers List doesn’t keep growing because it’s only your 1-3 highest priority items for the day or week.

Here are a couple of examples of Needle Movers:

You want to get stronger:

Instead of dozens of isolated exercises (bicep curls, skull crushers, calf raises, etc.)

What are the 1-3 highest ROI movements?

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench

These 3 lifts account for the majority of strength gains.

You want to grow your business:

Instead of doing every little thing yourself, plug what needs to be done into an Eisenhower Matrix.

After you’ve automated, delegated, and eliminated most of the work, what’s left?

These tasks are where you’re most valuable to your business.

You can take a daily approach, or look at your Needle Movers for the week—find what works for you.

You want to create a product/service:

A beautiful brand with a bullshit product won’t survive.

But a well-positioned product or service can revamp its branding as it evolves.

No one cares about your logo. They care about how well your product or service solves their problem.

Instead of wasting time and money pre-optimizing which font or hexcode you’ll use for your brand, focus on identifying a specific problem for a specific group and offering a specific solution.

What are the highest-leverage tasks you can dedicate your time and energy toward to create a great offer? 

Focus on those.

You want to become a better writer:

Instead of spending hours researching the perfect laptop, which fountain pen has the best nibs, or whether you should go with Grammarly, Hemingway, or Scrivener…

Just fucking write.

You’ll get way more out of reading the works of great writers, then deconstructing what worked and why it worked–or taking a writing course–than you will spending hours trying to find the “perfect” writing system.

The Needle Movers to become a better writer?

Iterate by doing 3 things:

Write. Edit. Publish.


Wrap Up

You have a finite amount of time, energy, and attention each day.

Don’t waste them on a never-ending to-do list filled with low ROI tasks.

At the end of each day, create a Needle Movers List for tomorrow.

When tomorrow comes, do those 1-3 tasks first.

This is how you shift from staying busy to being productive.

Leveraging a Needle Movers List is fundamental to the philosophy we dive into in Build an Intentional Life.

Because the best way to optimize for freedom and fulfillment is to be more intentional with how you live, work, and create. And one way to achieve that is to focus on simple, effective strategies that help you focus on the few things that matter.

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