We all have them. Those items on our to-do lists that never seem to get done or go away. Are you letting the undone weigh you down?
It is not uncommon for the topic of to-do lists to come up in coaching or Mastermind Groups. Most of us have them, some of them reaching the length of our arms! Let’s take a look at typical items that show up:
- Prep a press kit
- Clean the garage
Can you guess why these things don’t get done? They are like speed bumps in the flow of forward progress in our heads. To-do lists can mangle your productivity and slow you down. It’s frustrating because there is always so much to be done. How can we pick and choose what to do in a day? Another difficulty is that we don’t know why we just can’t seem to get to these things. Instead of reaching the end of the list, it just grows and grows and grows.
I can tell you exactly why they never seem to go away and it’s the exact thing I tell everyone who comes to Grow Your Business Coaching:
Do you have albatrosses looking you straight in the eye that are weighing you down?
It’s because THEY ARE NOT JUST A SINGLE TASK WITH ONE SINGLE ACTION we need to do. You can’t just do the one thing and cross it off, then be on your merry way. There are tons of steps included in all of them.
For instance, let’s look at Prep a press kit:
- Do you know what a press kit should include?
- Do you need to do some research?
- Do you have a resource person or a reference that is going to help you complete the kit or contribute to it?
- Do you have a bio and headshot for each principal?
Those are just a few questions you might ask, which demonstrates that the item on your to-do list is not the “Next Action” you have to take to move you forward. When this scenario is compounded by several such problem tasks on your list, you find yourself with an ever-growing list of undones that feels like the proverbial albatross.
So what do you do?
First, I would suggest that those items on your to-do list that are really made up of several action steps be removed and put on a “Project List.” For clarity, break each project down into the steps you can identify that are necessary to move the project forward. Any action that takes multiple steps should from now on, in your head, be defined as a project. It will help you to distinguish between the two.
Then, look at each of the steps through the following lenses:
- DO IT – These are tasks that generally take less than a couple of minutes. Get them done and finished – or add them to your to-do list.
- DELEGATE IT – Ask yourself if you are the right person for this job. Perhaps someone else is better suited to complete the task more efficiently and better. Then give it to them.
- DEFER IT – Get it into the system you have for working through projects. Are some items ready to go on the to-do list? Or perhaps the task needs to be scheduled in the future. Decide and then get it where it needs to go.
By breaking down these “projects” into “Next Action Steps,” you are able to see the path to getting them done and off any of your lists. Sometimes all we need is a little vision in order to see the big picture. That means you’ll make progress, I promise.