Question: How often are you too busy to finish your To-Do List?
The better question: Is your To-Do List worth doing? And when are you supposed to get it done?
Answer: Probably not today… But I can give you a few tools to start hacking away at that list.
Step 1: Make a List
Just sit down and list everything you do for your business. I mean EVERYTHING. From checking your email to entering expenses to taking out the trash. Give yourself a working list of how you should spend your day. Don’t be overwhelmed when your list starts moving into the margins of the page. This is good stuff.
Step 2: Break it Down
Separate your list into 3 categories- daily, weekly and monthly (you could add yearly, but I find it to be daunting). Your lists are probably long and that’s OK. You have a lot to do. Figuring out what you do and how often you need to do it are the first steps to tackling it.
This is how mine started out looking…
Step 3: Where do you Start?
Now it’s time to figure out what needs to be done first. This is usually the hardest part, but I have a solution. It’s called urgent v. important. They are two very different things. Important are the things that just have to get done. I would say that checking my email is important, taking out the trash probably isn’t. Urgent are things with a deadline. My blog posts have a deadline, backing up my computer does not (even though it’s my most important thing).
You can do this 2 ways. The first is to make another set of lists like this:
Everything on my list gets re-listed twice. Once in the Important/Not Important and again in the Urgent/Not Urgent.
Notice that I ended up without anything in the “Urgent, Not Important Box.” It happens. Yours will look different. You can skip the first step if you really really really want to. However, it makes your decision less arbitrary.
Step 4: Make Your List
Make your list in this order: Urgent/Important > Urgent/Not Important > Not Urgent/Important > Not Urgent/Not Important.
My final daily list:
Call Client “A”
Listen to messages
Update event page
Back up PC
Take out trash
Clean up desk
This would be my working list everyday. Repeat the steps for weekly and monthly tasks. In the weekly list, pick a specific day to get it done. For example, there is no way I could finish and post my blog on and complete my expense tracker. Choose a specific day to get that specific task done and hold yourself accountable to it.
Step 5: Be Flexible
Your lists are going to change. In fact, I would go back and change ‘take out the garbage’ to a weekly task. I don’t have clients coming to my office (I go to them), and let’s be honest, we both know I won’t do it everyday, so rather than have to look at it everyday, I would prefer to think about it only on Fridays.
Projects happen. Hey, that’s what most of my weeks are. Follow the same steps. Know what you need to do first and get it done. Set deadlines, reminders and try to gauge how much time it will take you- but don’t stop doing your initial list. The first time you ignore your messages or don’t check your email, something important and urgent will be there.
After a while, you won’t have to look at your home-base list – it will be automatic, it will be a habit, your time will free up and your productivity will skyrocket!