Now we’ve all heard of to-do-list, however, regular to-do-list often leave us feeling confused, overwhelmed, and stressed out. We all seem to struggle with the infamous “ I don’t have time” effect in our day to day lives. Everyone suggests that making a to-do-list is the solution.
I agree and disagree!
Regular to-do-list seldom work and they often lead to even more unproductivity.
#1. They are unfocused and non-specific.
When you list out everything you have to do on a piece of paper your brain goes into chaos. So many things you think you have to do with no clear direction or purpose.
- Pay this bill, pay that bill
- Pick up clothes from the cleaner.
These types of lists just scream anxiety. The worst thing about these lists is that you are always adding something to it and it seems, at least to your brain, that you aren’t making any progress. Before long you have a long list mixed with work, personal, and business tasks that do nothing but leave you confused and mentally drained.
#2. They have no time constraints.
“ A recent study found that only 17% of the population can accurately estimate the time something will take to complete.” We’re busy people. When your to-do-list isn’t focused or categorized you have no idea how much time each item will take to complete. So what do you do? Procrastinate. Which makes your list even longer.
#3. They make it easy to avoid the important stuff.
Our brains are designed to find the quickest shortest ways out of situations. When you look at your regular to-do list. The first task you usually will decide to do is often the easiest and most non-mission critical task possible. Which doesn’t really help you at all. Now you’re busy…but busy for no reason. Now we’ve covered why to-do lists usually fail to work and how they often lead to the most unproductive least impactful days possible…but what can we do about it?
Introducing the “Focused List”
I am about to break down an entire process designed to help you make every single day into an impactful focused day that actually moves you towards your goals. This is a method that tons…and I mean tons of successful people use to “Get S*** Done”. Grab a pen and some paper and let’s get started.
Step #1: Categorize
I want you to list out the major categories of things you need to get done on a daily basis. Example:
- Home (This is for household tasks)
- Personal (This is for bills, call mom, things of that nature)
- Business/Goals (This is for goals, business items, anything that is designed to move you towards your goals as an entrepreneur)
Step #2: Populate the list.
Now that you have your major categories labeled, I want you to begin adding tasks to this list. Just let your brain go and list our EVERYTHING you can think of that needs to be done.
Step#3: Break down large tasks into microtasks.
This step is essential. Why? It makes your larger task seem a lot more manageable which means that you are more likely to actually make progress on getting them completed.
Example: Finish Website Now becomes.
- Setup Homepage
- Creating Graphics
- Connect Email to Contact Form
- List Product A
- List Product B
And so forth and so forth. Hopefully, you get where I am going! This can be done for any task. Break whatever it is you have to do into as many small tasks as possible!
Step #4: Prioritize
Not that you have categorized lists broken down into micro-tasks, I want you to put stars next to the highest priority task. Circle the stars on the task that you think will take the most time.
For example: “Creating graphics” will most likely take the largest amount of time from our previous example. Once you have starred the most important task and given them a time estimate based on what will take longer and what will not take as long, it’s time for the magic.
This might trip you out a bit…but trust me. It is like magic!
The Secret of it all…
Step #5: Create an entirely new blank list!
This list is your “TODAY” list. Every night before you go to bed, I want you to pick the task from each category that will make the biggest impact on your goals/standard of living. You can start off with just three…and work your way up to 5. These are 3 tasks you should get done before you go to bed each day. You can then add 3 more additional tasks that are easy (not circled) under these main 3. Example: Major Task:
- Create Website Graphics
- Pay X Bill
- Email Client X
- Call Mom
- Buy Groceries
- Clean Car
Now the key is to do this every single day!
What will happen is that you will begin making actual progress by prioritizing the most important things while also making progress on the smaller nontrivial task.
Every night before you go to bed, cross off what was done and pull 6 new tasks from your categorized list for the day ahead.
I guarantee you will be less stressed and way more productive if you follow this approach. Give it shot and let me know in 7 days how this works for you.
Any questions? Leave a comment below and I’ll answer them as soon as I can.
For the non-traditionalist! I also plan on breaking down a free tool that you can use to do this on the web in a coming post!