Are you looking to conquer your productivity and make a power to do list that gets it done and leaves you with air to breathe each evening? Wondering how you can be satisfied with your effort each and every day? Eager to find out how you can make a manageable to-do list, that doesn’t leave you freaked out, and that enables you to accomplish tasks based on the direction you’ve chosen for your life?
Before we even start, if you already know you want my MASTER YOUR TO-DO List Worksheet, go ahead and enter your information. It comes to your inbox instantly, along with some other really cool stuff.
If the first thing you do each day is head to a notebook and scribble an 8 x 11 until its more ink than paper, you could probably use more help with being satisfied with how much you get done each day. Let’s be honest, are you really going to accomplish 25 or so lines of tasks each day?
Filling a page makes you busy, but not necessarily productive. What’s more is that if you are only concerned with getting as much done as possible, but are not making an effort to get the most out of your busy-ness each day, you are wasting time and life. It is possible to get less done, but get more done.
You will learn:
- The proper way to build your to-do list
- how to prioritize tasks so the most important ones don’t get left out
- the mindset behind leaving certain tasks unfinished
- how to go to bed satisfied with what you accomplished that day
1. Start with clear Direction
When it comes to life, we all have a destination in mind. It’s an ideal shape for our lives to take. The worst thing would be for someone to put time and effort into getting there, not knowing they’re going in the wrong direction.
Even worse, would be wasting energy each day on activities that get you there in baby steps.
When setting goals, or conquering a “TO-DO” list, we need to understand where we want to go first. After all, the task on that list is only there to progress your life in a certain direction.
For us to be able to sleep at night, the day needs to be successful. In order for the day to be successful in our minds, we need to have accomplished enough to make us feel like we earned that day.
Somewhere deep, we know that life is a gift, and when we spend the whole day busy but not going anywhere, it feels like we didn’t earn it.
So the first question for us each morning, BEFORE MAKING OUR LIST, is
- “How do I want to feel at the end of the day”
- “What things do I need to accomplish today in order to feel that way”
Examples of question 1:
- I want to feel like I made significant progress on this project
- I want to feel like I maintained a balance between my work and health
Examples of question 2:
- In order to feel like I made significant progress on this project, I need to __________
- In order to feel like I balanced work and health, I need ____, ______, and ______.
The point here, is that accomplishing MORE things each day is not the right mindset to have.
- The point of a to-do list is to make progress each day
- The point of progress is to further our satisfaction with our own lives
So if you end each day feeling dissatisfied, that means you were productive in relation to the wrong things. So, we worked that whole day and got nothing worthwhile done.
2. Practice Elimination for nonessentials
The sour fact of life is that there isn’t enough time to get everything done. There are only the same twenty-four hours for each of us. Yet some of us move forward at furious pace and leave others in the dust.
So what is the difference between those two groups? The difference can be seen in their list each day.
Normally you would end up with something like this. This is how the average person goes about their day, not knowing they are setting themselves up for emptiness and frustration at the end of it.
But if your list stays like this, you are at risk of investing time in tasks that don’t matter as much.
When you’re part of the group who makes serious progress each day, your list undergoes a few transformations, and it does so because of the question you ask yourself.
The questions you should be asking:
- What do I HAVE to get done today
- What would I like to get done today if I have the extra time
- Is there anything on this list that doesn’t matter, or that someone else could do?
When you ask yourself these questions, you realize that
- The presentation is due tomorrow and you and Jen will need to work on it today
- The weather is supposed to be extremely cold the rest of the week, so you might not get another chance to walk the dog for a while.
Now, our priorities are easily visible. There are things on the list that need to get done today, or we’re gonna have problems, and they might never get done!
3. Focus on core items
The last thing to understand for you and me to be satisfied with our effort each day is to only take your priority items and get them done first.
The day is not entirely under your control, and so anything could happen to take your scheduled time away from you.
This could be a distraction, something more pertinent that cannot be put off, or worse, an emergency.
There are things that you would like to get done, and then there are the items on the list you know will propel you forward toward your goals each day.
You may have big projects you are working on, products to create, conversations to have…etc
We need to ask ourselves:
- Where is my life going personally
The answer to those questions is where the core of your activities each day should be centered. Who cares about the laundry when you are trying to pitch that new idea at work or organize your family better?
Take your core direction and figure out what you can do today, and even this moment, to achieve that.
“My life is generally going on this direction.”
- Where are you taking your health?
- Where are you doing about your money?
- How are you handling or transforming your personal life?
- What are you doing each day for you to make sure you are happy and sane?
“Because those are the things that are most important to me right now, those are the activities I should be focused on today.”
“Something may come that causes me to have less time than usual, so I’m going to take those core activities and get them done first, in case I don’t have time later.”
Remembering the direction you’re trying to take your life before you make your list each day is a sure way to make sure your priorities get done, allowing you to feel more like your life is going somewhere, and not just like you are running around each day without progress.
4. Bonus Tip for your to-do list
Learn to stack! Stacking is not the same as multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is NOT something I recommend, and it is not something the human brain can do anyway.
Stacking means you combine a mindless activity with one that requires focus. OR you combine two mindless activities that you can easily accomplish simultaneously.
The point here is to ONLY combine tasks that can be done effectively if done in combination with another task:
- Sitting on the toilet and reading = STACK = GOOD
- Driving and reading = MULTI-TASK = BAD
With this list, we can combine:
- Going for a walk
- Walking the dog
- Chat with mom
We can also combine: watch a tv show and exercise if we had the right setup at our home.
- Start accomplishing tasks each day that propel your life forward in the direction you want to steer it, stop giving a disorganized to do list power over your life.
- Ask yourself how you want to feel at the end of the day, and work to accomplish tasks that push you toward that end.
- Learn to live with some mess in your life. Not everything needs to get done each day, and not everything can. Your best hope for steady progress in life is to only accomplish the essentials. Eliminate everything that “could wait” “would be nice if” and focus on tasks that MUST be accomplished.
- Start focusing on your real priorities. Priority tasks should be done first during the day to eliminate the possibility of them getting pushed aside by random “life events”. If you get caught up against your will, you still have your main stuff taken care of.