We like the idea that if it’s written down we can’t forget it.
And the to-do list is pretty unavoidable when running a business. Especially when you’re by yourself. There are so many aspects of the business you need to keep on top of.
But I bet more often than not your to-do list also gives you palpitations on a regular basis. You overload your days and feel like you don’t accomplish anything! It’s become a catalyst for feeling overwhelmed, out of control and confused.
The first thing that’s important to realise…… There is always going to be too much to do!
There I said it!
By our very nature, we will always find something more we should, want, need to do.
But dumping everything on your list, like it’s a regular shopping list, only becomes increasingly suffocating and depressing.
I have realised most people don’t have any boundaries around their to-do lists. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of simply adding the next task to the bottom of your ever-growing list. And all it does is hold you back, paralysed by its magnitude, rather than move you forward.
An impossible-to-achieve to-do list clutters your brain and your creativity.
And according to studies, most people leave 41% of their to-dos undone anyway!
And I’ll put my hand up and say I was so guilty of this too!
But I have come to really appreciate how important a strategy and filter mechanism is for keeping things simple, manageable, for reducing the feeling of overwhelm and most importantly for actually getting more done! Crazy, isn’t it!!
And the decluttering process starts by defining the strategy you’re going to use……
If you have a shopping list style to-do list then this needs to become your could-do or wish list or ideas list. Because it’s basically your brain dump of everything you would like or feel you need to do.
And now you want to start getting tough with yourself. Because you’re going to start a whole new list!
It’s going to be a much smaller, simpler list. Now whether you like to work with a daily or weekly list, it doesn’t really matter. You will be able to apply this strategy to either.
One of the strategies I’ve liked and worked with has been the 1-3-5 approach.
Here’s the gist – you focus on accomplishing ONE big thing, THREE medium things, and FIVE small things, and narrow down your to-do list to those nine items.
So, you start your day or week focusing on your one big thing – this is the job that’s going to have the greatest return on investment or the greatest impact when it’s complete. Once you’re done
then move on to your three medium things and again once they’re complete you finish with your five small things.
What’s also crucial to the success of this is to schedule each of these jobs in your calendar to block out the necessary time, and give 100% focus to it. Because remember switching from task to task (or multitasking as we like to call it) decreases your productivity, so stay focused on one thing at a time if you want to get more done and quicker!
And also eliminate any tempting distractions – emails, social media, people interrupting you etc.
So this is just one strategy to your to-do list, one that I particularly like and use. There are others out there and if this doesn’t do it for you, I encourage you to go research others and experiment.
But definitely find a strategy that you can apply to your list! Applying a system helps to keep things simple!
So, the filters to apply…..
Regularly filtering your list is key. You can start using these filters to take your original shopping list of tasks and create your new 1-3-5 list. And then refer back to these filters regularly to keep your list fresh and working for you.
1. DELETE any tasks that have been on your list since the dawn of time (or a couple of months or more)! If you haven’t got to them by now, simply let them go!
2. Say NO to busywork – this is anything that makes you feel virtuous without actually contributing to your priorities. This can be where the bulk of to-do list clutter is found. They simply steal time and energy! Examples of busywork are:-
– Reading and replying to emails where you gain/contribute little or nothing
– Working on low-value projects
– Making something perfect that only needs to be good
3. Deal with Déjà Vu tasks – if they happen repeatedly (daily, weekly or monthly) then simply schedule them in your calendar at the necessary time so they become part of your routine.
4. Put a line through jobs and tasks that are other people’s priorities! A clue here is the word ‘should’! It comes up a lot when these are based on what other people want. Your list wants to reflect your own priorities!
5. Delegate any tasks that someone else can do for you. If you have no one to delegate them to, decide if they are really important enough for you to do. If yes, schedule the time, if no, drop them!
6. Decide if the remaining jobs are a big thing, medium thing or small thing and then use the 1-3-5 system I talked about above.
Take 30 minutes to declutter your list through these filters. Don’t overthink it, just do it!
Your to-do list does not dictate you, you dictate it!
Take back control today!
I’d love to know what difference decluttering your to-do list does for your productivity and motivation! So hit reply and tell me.
I believe in you, in your business and your dreams and finding the way to achieve it all without the stress, confusion and struggle!
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AND here’s just a little reminder of what I do…
I work with female entrepreneurs and business owners who want to build their dream businesses!
I will help you get clear on what you need to do, how you’ll do it and keep you on track. You’ll give self-doubt the elbow, saying bye to overwhelm and hello to assertive action. Saving you time, effort and energy!
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