A Peek at To-Do Lists of the Wealthy

CPA Tom Corley explores daily habits of rich and poor people.
December 2, 2013

For five years, financial planner and CPA Tom Corley studied the routines of the rich and the poor, tracking more than 200 activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 people living in poverty. This research became the basis of his book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals. When it comes to planning their day and getting things accomplished, there are vast differences in the daily habits of the two groups, according to Corley, who has shared his findings on The Dave Ramsey Show and Yahoo Finance’s Financially Fit.

An estimated 67 percent of the wealthy put their goals into writing, while only 17 percent of the poor make this a habit. Approximately 81 percent of the wealthy he researched maintain a daily to-do list, while less than 1 percent of the poor create such lists.

“The daily to-do list is one of the tools the wealthy use to avoid procrastination, accomplish their goals and maintain control over their day,” Corley says.

The group Corley identified as wealthy set a goal of accomplishing 70–80 percent of the tasks on their daily to-do list. Why? His research found three reasons:

1. To-do lists give the wealthy control over their day.

2. These lists help accomplish an individual’s short-term and long-term goals.

3. Lastly, following a to-do list helps deter procrastination.

“The wealthy understand that procrastination can lead to faulty products or services and this creates unhappy customers/clients or a loss of customers/clients or, worse, litigation,” Corley says. “In short, procrastination causes a loss of income. Wealthy people understand that you cannot become wealthy if you procrastinate.”


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