February 4, 2019
Lemme guess…..you have approximately 5 billion things to do, they’re ALL important and they really need to be done… like yesterday.
Answer my 2,178 emails. Return those phone calls. Interact with my followers on Instagram. Make sure I actually post something to Instagram today. Crap. Add to the list shower, change out of my sweatpants, take an amazing photo and come up with a clever caption. Read all those blogs about how to convert Instagram followers into qualified leads. Learn how to handle my finances. Get Quickbooks…that should help me finally figure out my finances. Catch up on categorizing all my transactions from the last year. See if there is a better and easier software out there. Actually, scratch that, hire someone to handle my finances for me. Book more clients so I can afford to pay that finance person I just hired. Oh shoot, I need to remember to eat. Build my new website. Try to remember all the things I feel like I’m forgetting…oh yeah go full time! 😅
Just writing all of that made my brain hurt. Confession time. This used to be my life!!! I had so much to do, and I couldn’t keep it all straight. I had lists everywhere; in my phone, in my planner, in my email, on 13 sticky notes. Trying to remember it all was so overwhelming that by the time I finally put my phone down to get to work, I had lost all motivation to do anything.
BUT then an angel appeared, told me about a different way and CHANGED. MY. LIFE.
Okay, that angel was my hubs, Mark, and he had discovered a new way of organizing your to-do’s by reading productivity books like What’s Best Next. But it really did change my life and revolutionized my ability to get. stuff. done!
Before I jump into the four lists, let me tell you why you need to be using lists in the first place.
You’re an entrepreneur. You have 28 different roles to play. You’re the Marketing Director, CEO, Accountant, Sales Executive, and if you keep your office space tidy, you’re the janitor too. I’m betting it’s a struggle to keep all those “to do’s” in order. Don’t feel bad, any normal person would struggle to keep everything straight using only their brain.
As a creative, you NEED brain space.
It’s really hard to be creative when your brain is trying to remember those 5 billion things you have yet to do, much less overcome all the guilt that can come with the unchecked boxes!
Intentional lists will free up that precious brain space and allow you to focus on what matters most. You need lists, I need lists. And there’s no shame in that!
**Our winner from last week’s EveryDollar giveaway is Alicia Wilkinson!!! YAY lady! Congrats! An email is coming your way!
Pro Tip: Get all your to-do’s in ONE PLACE. Find a system and commit. No more sticky note here, notepad there, planner over here. I personally love using the Apple Reminders app that comes on every iPhone and Mac. You can also use apps like Wunderlist, Trello, Asana, or your classic paper notebook.
Ultimately, you just need to pick a system and stick with it. Done? Good 🙂 Now that you have the system you need these four lists in your life.
A task is something that you can get done in less than 15 minutes. This would include things like answering an email, gathering quick information, or posting to social media. Your Tasks List is a master list of every single task that you need to do.
Anytime you think about a task, put it in the Tasks List.
I literally even put “reply to Alex’s text” on my task list if I’ve already opened it. (Side note, WHEN will they give us the ability to mark text messages as unread?!) Okay, now that you’ve put that task on your task list…. watch this! Your next step? Forget about that task! WHEW!!! Can’t you just feel that sigh of relief from your brain?! Or maybe the thought of this gives you low levels of anxiety. But, trust me. You’re ok! In fact, you’re better than ok. Now that you’ve written down the task in your master list, you don’t worry about it. You can forget about it for now, because your list won’t! Enjoy the wonderful gift of peace of mind. It’s a great feeling isn’t it?
Pro Tip: If you use an app with alert capability, set an alert on the tasks that have strict deadlines!
The next list you need is almost exactly the same as the first. But instead of your short 15 minute tasks, this list will be filled with your more time-intensive projects. The easiest way to know if something is a project is to guess how long it will take. If it’s going to take 20-30 minutes, you can probably call it project. If it will take a couple of hours, it’s definitely a project. Projects can also often be identified by having several steps within that project. For example let’s say you want write a blog post called “4 Lists Every Entrepreneur Needs.” (I don’t know about you, but that sounds like it would be amazing!! I would definitely read and then share it with all my entrepreneur friends 😉). You could break that up into step one: decide on blog topic. Step two: research blog topic. Step three: outline blog. Step four: head to Starbucks for some liquid motivation. Step five: write blog. Step six: edit blog. Step seven: create blog graphics. Step eight: schedule blog. There’s a lot of steps, huh? So yes, blogging is definitely a project! 🙂 Other projects you might have could be to read that business book, update your website copy, edit that wedding, do your taxes, etc..
Your third list is a list of all the things you want to do, but if you’re being honest with yourself, aren’t really priority and need to be put on the backburner. These can be tasks or projects, but are more often than not they fall under the project category. You may like to get to them someday, but they’re just not mission critical and your business will survive if you don’t get to them for a season. I recommend taking a look at this list at quarterly so you can move anything that has become a priority or delete anything you’ve decided just doesn’t need to happen.
Okay, now we’re to the BEST part of this. By now, you’ve got one list with every single task you need to accomplish, another list for all your projects, and a list for things you hope to get to someday.
The final and most important list is your Weekly To Do List. This is really just what it sounds like – your weekly to do list. At the beginning of every week, look at your Task List and Projects List. While looking at those lists decide what you need to get done this week.
Now, just as important as the question, “what do I need to do this week?” is the question, “what can I actually get done this week?” You need to figure out what needs to get done this week, but you can’t overextend yourself. I know everything feels important, but I guarantee you that something on your list is most important. Find the most important tasks and projects and put those on your weekly list.
Now that you have your Weekly To Do List ready, it’s important that you IGNORE the other lists until it’s time to create your weekly list again next week. Get to work, focused on what matters most and start crossing things off! By the end of the week, you want to have an empty list. Enjoy your amazing weekend with the peace of mind that you got crap done! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Then do it again next week!
Need a little step-by-step help to get this new system working? Grab my free guide, 6 Steps to your Most Productive Week and get er done! 😉
What you think! Do you use lists? What does your system look like? Tell me in the comments!
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