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 in the next 6-12 months 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:

  • reaching out to that person who said now isn’t a good time but to check in with them in 6 months
  • sending your bio to that group you will be speaking to closer to your speaking date
  • deciding if you’re going to move forward with an idea (yes, you can add decisions to your list too!) you had for later in the year

Assign these things to the month and week you’ll do them and not when they’re due (this gives you wiggle room).

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.

Text on picture: The to-do list system framework

The to-do list system framework

Last week I shared what a “to-do list” is to me, a system that allows me to stay on top of my business and on track.

This system does have a list of everything that I want to do and accomplish, but that’s not the list I look at daily. Mainly because that would overwhelm the heck out of me, and then nothing would be done (know your limits).

My to-do list system isn’t made up of one list; it’s made up of three. That’s the framework of this system.

This week, I’m sharing that framework. I’ve used this framework for the last eight years of my business. It’s taken different forms over the years, but it always has three pieces.

Everything list

This list is how I will accomplish my intentions and goals for the quarter and month. It’s made up of projects and tasks that need to be completed to stay on track with my intentions and goals. There’s also a place for the ideas and projects I want to remember for later, but they’re not a high priority right now.

Weekly list

This list is what I want to accomplish this week to keep me on track with my intentions and goals for the month. It also has tasks that need to be done each week (like the tasks that go into getting this newsletter to you).

Today’s list

This is the list of what I plan to complete today.

There are more details for each of these lists as they work in my to-do list system. These details include things like format and other information for the day, but those details speak more to what works for me. Those details might not work for you.

If this framework feels like a lot, do the parts of it that feel doable. 

There was a brief period where I didn’t have a today’s list. Instead, I worked off my weekly list.

It worked better than the haphazard system I had before that, but after around three weeks it was clear that it still didn’t work as well as I wanted it to.

I was figuring it on my own and knew that today’s list was necessary for me. But I needed those three weeks to lay the foundation of habits for the next step.

Keeping in mind that your goal is to improve your to-do list system and not make it the thing that you’ll be using for the next two years, what changes do you need to make? 

Go back to the questions I asked at the end of last week’s post for a start.

And whatever you decide to start with, don’t forget to review what’s working and not working for you in a week or two.

Of course, if you want help creating your to-do list system, reach out and let’s talk about it. Just comment below.

Text on picture: What did you think of when you read "to-do list"

What I mean when I say “to-do list”, isn’t usually what people hear

I’ve realized that what I mean when I say “to-do list” isn’t usually what people hear.

What did you think of when you read “to-do list”? Type it in the comments below before you continue reading.

Generally, people think of a “to-do list” as the piece of paper with the tasks or projects that they hope to accomplish for the day. Or that list in their head. Or it’s the exhausting list of EVERYTHING that needs to get done.

For me, a “to-do list” is a system.

This system encompasses my intentions, goals, quarterly plans, current month plans, week plans, and today’s plans.

It’s the reason I’m able to regularly send out birthday cards, stay on top of bookkeeping, and a lot of other things.

It’s the reason I have fewer things to do, but the things I do have more impact.

It helps me manage my time and expectations.

This system didn’t appear overnight and solve many of my time and attention problems.

The first version that worked well for me developed over the course of a year.

In that year, there were a couple of ways I kept track of things that didn’t last long, but they were important for me to try. They helped me figure out what didn’t work for me, and what about them did work for me.

This important period of trying things that ultimately didn’t work led me to a system I used for about 18 months. Then it needed to be adjusted.

A system will work well for me for 18 to 24 months, and then I need to tweak something. One tweak was to move my system from all paper to a OneNote and paper combination. Most recently, it was a format change in OneNote.

If your to-do list is one piece of paper with today’s tasks on it or a LONG list of everything, then I encourage you to consider what your to-do list system might look like.

Start by thinking about what you will remember to check daily or already check daily.

Other questions to consider: Is it all on paper? Maybe in a notebook or a binder? Is it all electronic? Does it sync to your phone? Is it a hybrid of paper and electronic? What part lives where? How is it laid out?

It doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s just a place to start and build from.

Of course, if you want help creating your to-do list system, reach out and let’s talk about it. Just comment below.