There is no denying that having a to do list will help you accomplish more during your day. Why? Because without it, you may just “float” through the day dabbling in this and dabbling in that, but at the end of the day you will look back and ask yourself, “Did I accomplish anything of substance today?”
When you commit your daily tasks to a to do list you are holding yourself accountable. Your to do list will also provide you a visual pat-on-the-back of the tasks you’ve completed. I can tell you from experience and from working with clients that the act of crossing off or placing a check mark next to a completed task provides a surge of a feeling of accomplishment.
Conversely, your to do list, if it’s too large or too ambitious, may have you feeling bereft at the end of the work day when you notice that you only crossed off five of your fifty to do items. If you notice that happening regularly, you will need to rethink your to do list. Can anyone truly get fifty to dos done in a day? Probably not. You need to make your list manageable in order to make it effective.
Eat that frog!
I love the book by Brian Tracy and the idea of eating the frog first. What does that mean? It means you should tackle the job you dread the most as your first task. Once you have the item you are dreading out of the way, the rest of the day will be a breeze! Remember you don’t have to complete an entire project in one sitting (not all the time, right?). For example if one of your to do items is “write a book” or “finish my editorial calendar for the year” or “put all of my income and expenses into a spreadsheet or bookkeeping program” you don’t necessarily have to complete this task all in one sitting. Tackle those frogs in 15-minute increments. I’ll bet that you can easily devote 15 minutes to a task you don’t enjoy, right? Nibble away at it bite by bite and you’ll soon find you can check the entire project off your to do list.
Make your to do list manageable, not exhausting.
Putting too many items on a to do list may lead to a feeling of overwhelm and that can lead to a feeling that you’re sinking in quicksand. Yes, you have a lot to do. We all do. BUT, does it ALL have to be done in one day? Probably not. I urge you to write down your major annual business goals – write a book, put together your editorial calendar, redo your website, etc. – break those down into smaller goals. On your daily to do list you will want to add those items that truly must be done daily. For example: do client social media, write a blog post, prospect for new clients, work for 15 minutes on outlining my new book, network with potential new clients, call current clients and do a check-in… you get the picture, right? Everyone’s to do list will be different as all of our businesses are unique.
Keep an accomplishment list.
I keep my accomplishment list in my paper planner. (Yes, I still use a paper planner!) I write down items such as, “finished book outline!” I highlight it, underline it, decorate it. I celebrate it! I also keep my to do list in a physical notebook on my desk (messy photo attached!) where I write my to do list before I am done work at the end of the day. This helps me to jump right in once I get to my desk in the morning and also helps me sleep at night because I know I’ve written down what needs to be done. I do toss these notebooks when they are full, but it takes me many months to fill one up and even though I don’t consider my “regular, everyday to dos” to be an accomplishment I would put in my planner, it is gratifying at the end of the day to see what I’ve accomplished. Also, it holds me accountable to those items I haven’t finished. Let’s face it, there are days that no matter your good intentions, Pinterest lures you in with its lovely photos and delicious looking recipes and you while away the hours in that rabbit hole rather than completing the tasks you’d set out for yourself.
Do you use a to do list? Do you find it helpful? Do you celebrate your successes?
Robbi Hess is the former BlogPaws blog manager and will be speaking on Time Management Tips For The Blogger at the BlogPaws 2016 Conference. She blogs at All Words Matter and is the Media Manager for Big Barker, maker of premium beds for big dogs.
Photo: Andrey Khusnutdinov/Shutterstock.com
Photo: Robbi’s to do list