3 Steps To Manage Your To-Do List and Boost Your Productivity
Writing a To-Do list is supposed to help your manage your time and move you towards achieving your goals. But we often have so much to do on our “To-Do” lists that in actual fact we get less done because we are so overwhelmed by the sheer amount that needs doing.
I will happily hold my hands up and admit that in the past there have been things sat on my to-do list for months, they just keep getting copied over to the next list. Can you relate?
The reality is they are not essential to moving your business, so they really need to go on a different list. Our “To-Do” lists have in fact lost their main function and focus of helping you get shit done. Instead they are a dumping ground for everything, ideas, projects, notes and just end up becoming a NEVER ENDING LIST.
Fear not, I have a really good system that will help you to re-prioritise your actual tasks so you can start moving forward in your business, reducing the stress and overwhelm.
Step 1: Brain Dump
Sunday is my planning day and part of my ritual includes a brain dump. I love a good brain dump. It gets everything out of my head on to paper so I can focus on what needs to be done, rather than all the things going round and round in my head.
Grab a pen and start writing , get everything in your head onto paper. Keep writing until you have everything out. You can choose to do this weekly or daily, I find weekly works best and things that crop up throughout the week get added to the brain dump and NOT my to do list.
Step 2: Organise + Categorise
Let’s turn your brain dump into a more organised and structured list. We are going to rank them 1-3. The key here is to be RUTHLESS and very honest. This is how you break your To-Do list into manageable chunks and start getting more done.
Rank 1: Do-it
These are the tasks that take top priority. They are super important, urgent tasks that only you can do. And they need to be done to move your business forwards. Mark these tasks with a star and the no. 1.
Rank 2: Delay or Delegate-it
These are the tasks that are important, but that don’t need to be completed immediately or could be handed off to someone else to complete.
HINT: If it isn’t an income generating task, then it can be done by someone else.
If you are really serious about building a sustainable, profitable and productive business that you don’t work 16 hour days in, then you need to learn to delegate. You might think you need to do everything or that you are the only one capable of doing it right, but that simply is not true. Be brutal, it’s time to get stuff off your plate so you can get more done.
Rank 3: Ditch-it
Hmmmm, the tasks that are making you busy for the sake of being busy. They either don’t need to be done at all, most definitely can be completed by someone else, or are an idea/project to come back. More often than not, you will find that these tasks don’t need to be done at all, leaving you more time to focus on what really matters. You can always come back to these when you’ve actioned everything else.
Step 3: Write Your To Do List
You now know what needs your attention, what is a priority, what needs to be handed over to someone else and put on hold, so let’s write your To Do list.
Start with listing your top 3 priorities for the week (ideally 3, you can go to as many as 5, BUT absolutely no more than 5). Then list the tasks that need to be done, but can be either delayed or delegated until the no.1 tasks have been completed. Make sure you have a space to capture any notes, ideas, additional things to do in a separate space. Your focus for the week should solely be on your new revised and 100% focused on the task in hand To-Do list. Nothing else.
If you really want to make an impact, you could take your to-do list and schedule in the tasks you need to complete for the week into your calendar, blocking out time to complete each one and setting reminders if you work better in this way. Otherwise, simply keep your list to hand and take action daily.
Then simply repeat the exercise week after week and watch your productivity soar.
Obviously though, let me caveat this by saying like all things, you need to find a system that works best for you and your business. BUT you need to at least give this system a try, test it out for a few weeks and see how you get on. What works for one person may not for another, but the brain dump exercise is a great tool to use, so I highly recommend you make that part of your routine. It will help to eliminate some of the stress and overwhelm and if your brain happens to be anything like mine and is sometimes hard to switch off completely, brain dumping onto an A4 or even an A5 page really helps.
The key to being really productive is finding a system that works and consistently following a routine. It will help to keep you focused and to streamline identifying the most important tasks on a weekly basis, so you can keep moving your business forwards.
Let me know how you get on. Leave a comment below.