I’ve found that most
people have one in one form or another.
And sometimes we
assume that everyone puts together a to-do list the way we do.
I’ve found that
people are generally making one or two mistakes with their to-do lists and
we’re going to talk about that today.
Your to-do list is
on whatever piece of paper or notebook that happened to be near you when you
needed to write somethings down.
A side effect of
this to-do list method is you keep thinking about all the things you have to
do. Your mind is a constant stream of things to do.
This is because your
brain is super smart (really it is) and it knows that you might not find that
piece of paper or notebook when you’re at your desk ready to do that work.
What to do instead
Have ONE place you
write your to-do lists.
You’re not creating
your WHOLE planning and tracking system here, you’re starting with ONE small
tweak that will help you develop a habit that supports your future
You might start with
a smaller notebook that will easily fit in your purse or an app on your phone.
I’d suggest starting
with a notebook and seeing how that goes for a bit.
Your to-do list is
in ONE place, but it’s a list of EVERYTHING that you need to do.
This is actually a
good problem to have because it means that you’re writing things down
(physically or digitally) and you know what needs to be done.
What to do instead
Create a list of only what needs to be completed today or this
week. The other things can be done in the coming weeks.
This allows you to
set your priorities once a week and then you won’t have to decide on a daily or
moment-to-moment basis what your priorities are.
things tie to your goals for the month, but again, it’s about doing one small
tweak so that you start creating the habits that support your future habits and
Now, you might be
wondering why I’m not suggesting that you start with creating a
planning/tracking system right off the bat.
My question for you
is: have you tried jumping right into a planning system or goal tracking system
before? Yes? How did that go?
What I find with my
clients is they have a list of things they’ve tried (and planners in the closet
with maybe a month filled out) and then
something popped up, they got busy, or there was some other disruption.
The new system took a lot of time and effort to keep up with because the habits around it hadn’t developed yet. So, it all fell apart.
Instead, look at the
small steps you can take or one habit you can develop that will make a
difference. When that step is completed or that habit developed, then you can
add something else.
If you want to know a couple of small tweaks that will make a big difference for you, reach out to schedule a complimentary session with me. You can do that by commenting or filling out the Contact Me form on my website here: http://www.oneinsightcloser.com/contact-me
PRODUCTIVITY FOR SOLOPRENEURS: INSIGHTS TO GETTING THINGS DONE #122
I was searching
through my blog archives last week and came across something I wrote seven
years ago that really stuck with me.
It’s about what to
do with impromptu visits.
Those “hey, I’m in town today, want to grab some lunch” type of unexpected invitations.
For me, they usually
come from family members.
And I’m a planner. I like to have appointments on my schedule at least a week in advance and my tasks for the week outlined before Monday morning.
When I get an impromptu visit or lunch request, it can feel like someone took a large cartoonish wrench and threw it into my well planned and thought out week.
Do I want to spend
time with them? YES!
AND I want to get
the things I had planned for the week done too.
The problem is if I always say no last-minute requests of my time, I might not have an opportunity to see that person again for a few months.
I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons having my own business was appealing was that I could occasionally enjoy these impromptu visits.
So, if I say no to these visits, am I honoring my schedule and plans or am I being too tied to them?
Here’s what we forget about our to-do lists, schedules, and plans sometimes: they are there to help you and work for you. You do not work for them.
It sounds a little
weird to say it like that, but sometimes in our quest to get as much done as we
can each day, we forget that there are other things to do.
Life doesn’t always fit in nice little compartments and since you’re reading this, I’m guessing you really don’t want it too. You want a life with flexibility.
This doesn’t mean
it’s always easy to put aside my plans for the week and have brunch with family
instead. I have things! that must be done! And if I start my day late, those things! Might not get done! (does anyone else’s brain work like this? Or is it just
This is when it’s
helpful for me to take a breath and realize that if there are no appointments
scheduled, then the things! can be done
When I have impromptu visits and my mind is ping-ponging between GO have fun and STAY to complete the things! I ask myself these questions:
Are there any appointments or meetings that this will overlap or interfere with?
Are there any deadlines approaching that will be negatively impacted?
Have I already spent time this week with unplanned visits?
How will this impact progress on my goals?
The gist of these
questions is: will my business or goals be negatively affected by spending time
If so, is spending this time with this person
more important than my business and/or goals?
Notice that I wrote “is spending this time with” and not “is spending time with.” That one little word changes the meaning of the sentence a bit.
Again, your schedule
and to-do list are meant to help guide you and make your day flow smoothly.
They are not a ball
and chain that keep you tied to your office or computer.
If you’re treating
them like that, step back, get curious and ask yourself why.
Leave a comment letting me know when was the last time you said yes to an impromptu visit.
And if your schedule and to-do list feel like a ball and chain or if it feels impossible to say yes to an impromptu visit, then reach out and let’s talk. The easiest way to do that is to leave a comment or fill out the Contact Me form here.
PRODUCTIVITY FOR SOLOPRENEURS: INSIGHTS TO GETTING THINGS DONE #113
This is an idea that
I came across a week or two ago.
When I Googled it to
see if I could find where it came from, the top results were about inventions
that solve problems we don’t actually have.
But that’s not the
way I saw it used.
This is about those items on your to-do list that seem like a good idea, but you actually don’t need to do—it solves a problem, but the problem doesn’t actually exist for you.
I’m guilty of this.
A couple of weeks ago I spent at least a couple of hours updating the passwords that my password manager app told me were either duplicates or not good passwords.
95% of the sites I
was changing passwords on were sites that I rarely use, have no important
information stored with them, and if they did get hacked it wouldn’t have been
It wasn’t a good use
of my time.
Those sites didn’t
actually need their passwords updated.
I was solving a problem that didn’t actually exist.
Instead of spending time on that, I could have been making phone calls, emailing people, or any number of things that are actually important for my business.
So, I encourage you
to look at your to-do list for today or this week and make note of the things
that solve problems that don’t exist OR that can be done after the tasks that
are actually important for your business.
And then, instead of doing them, do the things that are important for your business instead.
When I do this to my to-do list I instantly have a
slew of reasons pop into my head about why those things need to be done.
For the above-mentioned password updating it was “but now that app doesn’t complain nearly as much as it did about passwords” or “now my security score is so much better!”
Those things didn’t
actually cost me any time before I changed it. They weren’t important.
For some of the other things on my list, it’s thoughts like “but getting those things off my list will feel really good” or “these things can be knocked off my to-do list quickly” or “they’ve been on my list to do for a while now, I should do them”.
But they don’t need to be done.
Nothing will be negatively impacted if I do them next week or next month.
What are those things for you?
What are your tasks that really do need to be done?
And if everything feels like it’s important and needs to be done, reach out and let’s talk. The easiest way to do that is to leave a comment or fill out the Contact Me form here.
PRODUCTIVITY FOR SOLOPRENEURS: INSIGHTS TO GETTING THINGS DONE #112
Last week I came across an article that was a compilation of productivity advice from around 10 different small business owners.
The first person they listed advised something to the effect of pick 3 things to do each day instead of having a long to-do list.
A couple of people later someone’s advice was a daily to-do list is too constraining, instead create a weekly to-do list and do the tasks as you feel like doing them.
Soooo, which is it?
I wish these lists would come with a bit more information about the person and their company.
Do they have a personal assistant? Is there a large team supporting them? Does he spend most of his time in meetings? Is his weekly to-do list already very short? Is he marking his weekly list with the one or two tasks that are the highest priority for the day?
If I had to guess, the person who thinks you should work off of a weekly to-do list and do tasks as you feel like doing them has a really great personal assistant who’s encouraging him/her to do the important things that are buried in that weekly list and they might not feel like doing.
My experience with clients and my own personal experience is that when you’re working from a weekly list without a daily list one of three scenarios will generally play out:
You end up doing all the fun and exciting and maybe even easy things that the beginning of the week. Which means at the end of the week you have all the things you don’t care to do or require more energy. And then something isn’t going to be done because it’s exhausting and you didn’t budget your energy/attention very well.
The beginning of the week feels like you have all the time in the world to get the things on your list complete. So, you dilly-dally or spend more time than you need to on the tasks you do decide to work on and suddenly there’s A LOT left to do on Thursday and Friday.
You’re so overwhelmed by your list of things that you want/need to get done this week that you do very little or nothing. Or you bounce around a lot because there are so many high priority tasks that need to be done NOW.
You might have guessed that between the options of working from a weekly list or a pick 3 things to do for the day – I’d go with picking 3 things.
More to the point, I recommend creating a daily to-do list in whatever format works best for you. If that’s a list of three things, great! If that’s formatted some other way, great!
To the business owner that finds a daily to-do list too constraining, I’d love to know how you’ve created your daily list in the past. There are many different ways to create it that allow you to get things done in an efficient way and do things that work with your energy and attention level for that day.
If this topic feels like it’s impacting you personally, and you’d like some help, let’s talk! The easiest way to set that up is by applying for coaching by clicking here.
PRODUCTIVITY FOR SOLOPRENEURS: INSIGHTS TO GETTING THINGS DONE #107