The Art of Less Doing is an entire framework and philosophy for getting more done and freeing up your time, so you can do the things you want to do. People can save thousands of hours by not running errands, and they can manage their time better by choosing their own workweek but a lot of people just want to know how to deal with email and get rid of their to do list. So here it is in as few steps and as simply put as I possibly can.
All we care about is that you have a clean inbox. If there is an item in your inbox you have three options, delete it, defer it, or deal with it.
1) Setup this essential filter to get rid of the majority of non-essential emails in the future as well as messages currently in your inbox.
2) Now go through each remaining email and do one of the three d's. If it's something that is done than archive it (or delete it). If it's something that you can better deal with at another time, forward it (defer it) using FollowUp.cc, and if you can do it now, than deal with it.
I realize that seems insanely simple but the first step invokes the all important Essential vs. Optional theory, and the second step is a skill set you need to develop and over time you will get better and faster at "processing" emails. If you are a Gmail user, try The Email Game to work through these principles and get rewarded as you improve.
To Do List:
Take a similar approach as you would with email, look at your current list, but instead of the three d's think about this question "When is the right time/day for me to do this item?" then choose one of the following four options:
1) Do it now
3) Delegate it to your virtual assistant,
4) Email or manually add it to Evernote if it has to do with an idea or notes/research
Once you've eradicated your to do list you'll never need it again. You're inbox will become your de facto, extremely short-term and hyper focused list of things that need to be done now, which is all you should be concerned with.