On left: Picture of "make it happen" notebook; On right: text "How to plan to move things off your everything list and not let something stay on it forever"

How to plan to move things off your everything list and not let something stay on it forever

On my Facebook page I asked which topic you’d like to see covered and the winning topic was ideas for your “Everything” to-do list.

One question someone had was “how to actually plan to move things off of it and not just let something stay on it forever.”

First, let’s talk about what the “everything” list isn’t. It’s not something you look at every day. You look when you’re doing your planning for the week or any other planning you do (month, quarter, or year).

It holds your plans to reach your goals and intentions.

One mistake I made when I started using an “everything” list was making it simply a list of everything that needed to be done. Usually, I grouped it by project, which was helpful, but much like the woman asking the question above, some things never moved off of it.

To complete the items on your “everything” list, I recommend that you group your list by month and assign each task to a month. And anything that you’re not planning on doing this year or ideas that you want to develop later go on your “later” list.

The next grouping is by week. Prefill your week with tasks or projects that recur monthly.

My monthly recurring tasks include:

  • On the last week of each month, planning the upcoming month
  • On the third week of each month, I select the quotes I’ll post to my business page, create the image, and schedule them.

​Create the prefilled week template for 5-6 months out. This allows you to add things to it as things come up, such as adding a task to reach out to that person who said now isn’t a good time but to check in with them in 6 months, assign it to the month and week you’ll do it or adding a task to send your bio to that group you will be speaking to.

When you do your monthly planning, map out the tasks you need to complete for each project or goal, and assign those tasks to weeks of the upcoming month.

Now, you’re set to create your weekly list. You cut and paste (or rewrite) the tasks you assigned for the upcoming week to this week, add the tasks you do every week, and the loose ends from last week. 

When your tasks are assigned to a specific week (or month if it’s happening much later), you’re much more likely to get it done.

There’s a lot of information packed in up there, so please leave a comment with any questions you have OR tell me if you have an “everything” list and how it’s set up.

I just can’t get started in the morning

The other day I came across a Facebook post in a group that went something like this:

I’m just getting started in my business and I’m struggling. I can’t seem to get started in the mornings.
I know I’m good at what I do, but I just can’t get going.
Any insight or advice for me?

And there was some really great advice for her in the comments that included:

  • Go for a walk (or move in some way)
  • Set up a morning routine that gets your juices flowing
  • Do something else for a bit when you’re stuck
  • Know your most productive time of day and plan your day accordingly

​I agree with all of this advice.

I can also understand the posters problem.

I am not a morning person.

Left to my own devices (i.e., no plan), it can be quite a while before I actually start working.

This is why my last task each day is to plan the next day. I’ll plan to start my day at a specific time, and if I don’t start then, things on my daily list won’t get done. And that will bother me.

However, it’s not just about planning the day; it’s about planning the day for how I work.

I know if I put the most challenging task of my day first that I’ll procrastinate getting to work. 

Instead, I’ll generally put one or two easy or quick tasks at the beginning of my day.

This means I’ve already crossed at least one thing off my list before I’ve been in the office an hour. It creates a bit of momentum for the day.

If you also have problems getting started in the morning, try this and let me know how it goes.

Otherwise, what do you do to get started in the mornings? 

Comment below and share with me!

Text on picture of lit bulb on desk: How do you plan for your creative work?

How do you plan for your creative work?

How do you plan for your creative work?

Someone asked me this a couple of weeks ago.

My default answer comes in a video by Craig Benzine (aka WheezyWaiter) many years ago where he said:

If you want to create something and you’re not feeling inspired, take a closer look as to why that is, or just ignore it and start doing stuff.

Craig Benzine

I think that’s true.

I also think there’s something to be said for taking inspiration when it comes.

Each week I have a rough idea when I’ll write my article.

Sometimes I’ll have an idea for the article before that time comes.

I used to write down a sentence or two and save the idea for my article writing time.

Then the time would come, I’d look at the note and write a brilliant article. Well, that’s the intention, but it very rarely happens that way.

What actually happens is: I look at the note and have no clue where I wanted to go with it.

Now, when inspiration comes, I’ll take about 15 minutes to write out as much of the idea as I can. Then, when my article writing time comes, I can polish it up.

There are still weeks where I sit down to write, and I’m not inspired. No ideas appear.

Sometimes I move on, sometimes I write about not having ideas, and last week I shared two articles from earlier this year that you might have missed or need to read again.

I guess you could say, sometimes not having inspiration can be the inspiration for something. 

How do you plan for creative work? Share in the comments below.

Different definitions of time blocking

There are several business podcasts that I check every week. I don’t listen to every single episode because the content doesn’t apply to what I’m doing or it’s not something I need or want right now.

However, the latest episode of Being Boss does NOT fall into that category.

Emily Thompson hosts this podcast and her topic last week was time blocking. 

She did a fabulous job describing how she uses it (you can listen to it or read the transcript here).

It’s not the way I describe it, but it is one approach.

If you’ve heard me talk about time blocking before, you know that I recommend NOT scheduling your tasks into your calendar.

When Emily time blocks, she does a version of scheduling tasks into her online calendar. Personally, it would drive me BATTY, but it works for her and might work for you.

I also came across a new Time-block Planner by Cal Newport. While I won’t be buying his planner (I prefer wire or disc-bound so I can keep them open to one page), I do LOVE how he lays it out. It’s similar to what Emily does, but on paper. 

And it’s very easy to do something similar in a regular notebook.​​

You can watch his quick video describing it here.

What I love about Cal’s method is no block is shorter than 30 minutes, even if there are tasks that are shorter than 30 minutes. He groups tasks together that can be completed in 30 minutes. 

You could make your blocks any size you’d like. I’d recommend sticking to 25 minutes or longer.

I also would recommend giving yourself an empty 30 minute or so time block at the end of the day to allow for the things you can’t anticipate (a potential client call, your sister calls, something else unexpected happens).

Neither of them talks about having time blocks pre-defined to make sure you’re spending time in different areas of your business. Some examples of pre-defined blocks are business development, marketing (a large chunk of your time), client time/work, and admin.

When I talk about time blocking, I share that you want to have different sections of your week reserved for each of these blocks. This way, you are always making time for admin (sending those invoices! or scheduling social media) and business development (goal setting, weekly reviews, learning new skills, or updating ​​​​your knowledge).

Do you time block? If so, how do you do it? If not, do you think you will after seeing these examples?

Comment below and let me know.

Text on picture of woman working at desk: 6 tips to complete the goal pushes against your comfort zone

6 tips to complete the project or goal that feels uncomfortable and pushes against your comfort zone

Last week I shared that I broke my habit of running around trying new projects and things that didn’t work by focusing on a project that forced me to learn and exercise a critical business skill that I lacked.

Working on that project was uncomfortable, pushed against my comfort zone hard, didn’t come naturally to me, and I wasn’t always motivated to keep going.

And yet I did, and the project was a success in the areas I needed it to be.

So, how did I do it?

The truth is there wasn’t just one thing that allowed me to complete this project. It was a combination of things.

Below I’ll share what I believe were the most significant contributors to completing the project.

My future success depended on me learning this skill.

While I wasn’t motivated to do this project specifically, I knew that not doing the project would mean I’d continue to have crappy results in my business. Basically, this skill was so important I knew that all my future success would be built on what I learned through this project. Not doing this project would mean my business would not move forward.

I was clear about my deadlines.

Because the project was uncomfortable and pushed against my comfort zone, it was super important to be very clear about what needed to be done and when. This allowed me to put on blinders to the larger project and only focus on the specific task in front of me.

Knowing that I wanted to start sending invites x days before the project began meant those deadlines weren’t moveable. Once I sent the first invites out, I was now committed to the date. It was out there.

I spread the work out over time.

I also made sure that the work was getting done, but was spread out. This allowed me to keep my energy up. I generally have more energy and attention in the morning, so I made sure those uncomfortable tasks came first.

I regularly reviewed my progress.

I gave myself time to review what worked and didn’t and adjust. Because the skill I was learning didn’t come naturally to me, I paid attention when something felt more in line with me (more down my alley, more me) and made a note of it to repeat later.

I had clearly defined tasks.

I was very clear about the tasks that needed to be completed. My task wasn’t to “invite people.” The tasks were to “make a list of at least 25 people that I think will benefit from this” and “personally invite that list of people via a phone call.”

It helped to focus on today’s task (or tasks) for the project. And because I spread the work out, I usually only had one 30-minute to 1-hour block of this to do each day. Once it was done, I could move on to tasks that felt much easier.

The bonus was how great it felt to have the task done and be able to move on.

I remembered my bigger goal when things felt hard (my why).

When things felt difficult, I’d take a deep breath and remember what I saw on the other side of this project. I’d remind myself why it was important to do this.

This sounds a bit like my first reason above, but this one is a bit deeper. The first one, my future successes depended on me learning this skill, is more of a nuts and bolts reason.

This reason is more of a mindset shift. It was about reminding myself that I could do these hard things and why it was important to step into being a person who did this hard thing and what that would do for me.

Again, it wasn’t just one of the above reasons that allowed me to complete the project that, on some levels, I did not want to do. It was the above reasons together that made the difference.

I’ve read multiple places that what makes a goal successful isn’t just about remembering why it’s important to you. It’s about putting the systems in place that support the work of doing hard things—remembering your why is one crucial part of that.

What questions do you have around doing projects in your business that feel uncomfortable or push against your comfort zone? Or share your experiences with this. Let me know in the comments.