Loretta business life wellness

Using Your To-DO List to Get Shit Done

My brain is an amazing machine for storing and processing but as I try to cram more into my days it’s beginning to feel like a leaky bucket.

To be fair, its not a leaky bucket, it’s just a full to the brim bucket and I’m trying to add more things to the top and they are just spilling off and crashing to the floor, yes it’s not the bucket that has the problem, it’s my “cram it all in” approach that gets to take the blame here.

I am multi-passionate in my business, doing just one thing feels so boring so I love to explore new opportunities and try new things, but I also love to be productive and profitable so I’ve been trialing ways to stay organised and get shit done more effectively, without those 3am wake in fright moments when you realise you forgot that important thing.

Just as an aside, that is one of the worse feelings, the cortisol that floods your body and elevates your blood pressure and quickens your heart beat is not needed at 3am!!!

I’m presupposing that you have handy techniques like time blocking in place, if not then head over to Your Not Time Poor it Just Feels That Way, where you can dive into the world of time blocking – it sounds super boring but man its a game changer.

Ok so time blocking is a technique you’ve got down pat but  ALL THE THINGS still need to be done and you either:

  • Find yourself picking just the fun stuff from your list
  • Creating such a long list it just zaps your will to live
  • Never feel like you make a dent no matter how hard you try
  • Keep writing new lists as more and more ideas come to mind
  • Get totally confused by all the post it notes, note books, planners and other list making contraptions you use simultaneously
  • Or all of the above

Sounds like we get to simplify first.

  • Simplify and Prioritse

Grab your current to do list and let’s apply a framework that the late great Stephen Covey introduced called the 4 quadrants.  This was first introduced to me by a patient and wise principal I had the pleasure to be employed by.  As a young inexperienced teacher I was overwhelmed beyond my wildest dreams, my stress was at an all time high and my skin was erupting all over.

I went to her in tears thinking I needed to quit because I couldn’t cope with the work load, what she showed me changed my perception and reduced my stress instantly.

The above quadrant is a great filter to use to ensure you are placing your energy in the right places.  You can’t create more time but you can make sure you are working on the right things.

Ideally you want to be working in the upper right quadrant.  This is the area where you are working on tasks that move the needle for you.  They aren’t stress ladened because the urgency isn’t there but they are the things that mean your business keeps moving forward.

When you first look at your to do list through this filter you may find much of your tasks fall into the Urgent and Important category.  This can be you have been driven by reacting in your business as opposed to driving and being proactive about your direction.

This will change over time.  The bottom left, Not Important but Urgent are the first tasks to delegate and the Not Important, Not Urgent please consider deleting these all together.

  • Keep It Together

I don’t mind whether you choose electronic or pen and paper but choose one and stick with it.

I’m a fan of Trello, its an electronic task organiser and has a great free version.

To me it’s like a big pin board where cards are added ( individual tasks) and can be moved and sorted to indicate where they are in the process.

My boards are very simple with Brainstorming, To Do, Doing , Done as my category headings. The cards then just move to where they need to be.

Now if you are a cherry picker or the sight of all those cards is just too disheartening go to the next level.

Link two more boards to the main board.  One for what’s needing to be addressed this week and one for what’s needing attention today.

  • Keep it focused

Invest in a timer or use the one on your phone.

Now the quadrant you want to work most in is Important Not Urgent, it’s not labelled ‘Shits and Giggles’ so at times while you know it’s important it may not be exactly what you want to be doing.  So set a timer and do the work until the timer goes off.

I find 20 min blocks are my attention span at it’s max.  I set 20 mins and then do not move until the timer goes off.  That’s no task switching, no quickly checking FB, nothing.  Then at the 20 min mark I can reevaluate where I’m at, set another timer and go again.

This is how you can actually use your to do list to get Shit done and not drown under the weight of yours and everyone else’s expectations. 

Great reads: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People : Stephen Covey

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