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Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #114 / What's right and wrong with having only 3 things on your todo list

What’s right and wrong with having only 3 things on your todo list

I keep seeing this recommendation to only have 3 things on your to-do list a day.

The first time I remember seeing it I wondered if this person spent A LOT of time in meetings and had extremely little time to do anything else.

After all, a VERY common piece of productivity advice around to-do lists is to break things down into individual tasks. In other words, don’t have projects on your to-do list.

So, if you’ve broken your projects into individual tasks, how is it possible that someone would recommend to only have three tasks to accomplish each day?

Again, are they spending A LOT of time in meetings?

What I found is when someone recommends having only 3 things on your to-do list, what they actually mean is to have 3 small projects or 3 large tasks.

A small project might be “write blog post.” This is a small project and not a large task because there are multiple steps to it. Generally, you’re going to write the blog post, create/find an image for it, edit it, add it to your blog, schedule an email with it to go out, and create/schedule social media posts about it.

That’s a small project.

Your three things in a day might be: 1) write blog post, 2) go to networking meeting, and 3) have client meeting (or do client work).

I don’t disagree with having three small projects or large tasks each day. I think that’s probably a good goal.

But there are still some things missing.

  1. They’re not clear that they don’t mean individual tasks
     
  2. They’re not including the things you do on a daily basis like checking and replying to email, business social media check-ins, phone calls, or planning.

Even though they say to only have 3 things on your to-do list, that’s not really accurate.

The guideline of having three small projects or large tasks on your to-do list each day is good. But also remember to have the steps for the small project written down too AND the things you do daily.

PRODUCTIVITY FOR SOLOPRENEURS: INSIGHTS TO GETTING THINGS DONE #114

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #113 / Choosing between an impromptu visit and your to-do list

Choosing between an impromptu visit and your to-do list

I was searching through my blog archives last week and came across something I wrote seven years ago that really stuck with me.

It’s about what to do with impromptu visits.

Those “hey, I’m in town today, want to grab some lunch” type of unexpected invitations.

For me, they usually come from family members.

And I’m a planner. I like to have appointments on my schedule at least a week in advance and my tasks for the week outlined before Monday morning.

When I get an impromptu visit or lunch request, it can feel like someone took a large cartoonish wrench and threw it into my well planned and thought out week.

Do I want to spend time with them? YES!

AND I want to get the things I had planned for the week done too.

The problem is if I always say no last-minute requests of my time, I might not have an opportunity to see that person again for a few months.

I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons having my own business was appealing was that I could occasionally enjoy these impromptu visits.

So, if I say no to these visits, am I honoring my schedule and plans or am I being too tied to them?

Here’s what we forget about our to-do lists, schedules, and plans sometimes: they are there to help you and work for you. You do not work for them.

It sounds a little weird to say it like that, but sometimes in our quest to get as much done as we can each day, we forget that there are other things to do.

Life doesn’t always fit in nice little compartments and since you’re reading this, I’m guessing you really don’t want it too. You want a life with flexibility.

This doesn’t mean it’s always easy to put aside my plans for the week and have brunch with family instead. I have things! that must be done! And if I start my day late, those things! Might not get done! (does anyone else’s brain work like this? Or is it just me?)

This is when it’s helpful for me to take a breath and realize that if there are no appointments scheduled, then the things! can be done later.

When I have impromptu visits and my mind is ping-ponging between GO have fun and STAY to complete the things! I ask myself these questions:

  • Are there any appointments or meetings that this will overlap or interfere with?
  • Are there any deadlines approaching that will be negatively impacted?
  • Have I already spent time this week with unplanned visits?
  • How will this impact progress on my goals?

The gist of these questions is: will my business or goals be negatively affected by spending time elsewhere?

If so, is spending this time with this person more important than my business and/or goals?

Notice that I wrote “is spending this time with” and not “is spending time with.” That one little word changes the meaning of the sentence a bit.

Again, your schedule and to-do list are meant to help guide you and make your day flow smoothly.

They are not a ball and chain that keep you tied to your office or computer.

If you’re treating them like that, step back, get curious and ask yourself why.

Leave a comment letting me know when was the last time you said yes to an impromptu visit.

And if your schedule and to-do list feel like a ball and chain or if it feels impossible to say yes to an impromptu visit, then reach out and let’s talk. The easiest way to do that is to leave a comment or fill out the Contact Me form here.

PRODUCTIVITY FOR SOLOPRENEURS: INSIGHTS TO GETTING THINGS DONE #113

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #112 / Are you solving problems that don't exist?

Are you solving problems that don’t exist?

“Solving problems that don’t exist.”

This is an idea that I came across a week or two ago.

When I Googled it to see if I could find where it came from, the top results were about inventions that solve problems we don’t actually have.

But that’s not the way I saw it used.

This is about those items on your to-do list that seem like a good idea, but you actually don’t need to do—it solves a problem, but the problem doesn’t actually exist for you.

I’m guilty of this.

A couple of weeks ago I spent at least a couple of hours updating the passwords that my password manager app told me were either duplicates or not good passwords.

95% of the sites I was changing passwords on were sites that I rarely use, have no important information stored with them, and if they did get hacked it wouldn’t have been an issue.

It wasn’t a good use of my time.

Those sites didn’t actually need their passwords updated.

I was solving a problem that didn’t actually exist.

Instead of spending time on that, I could have been making phone calls, emailing people, or any number of things that are actually important for my business.

So, I encourage you to look at your to-do list for today or this week and make note of the things that solve problems that don’t exist OR that can be done after the tasks that are actually important for your business.

And then, instead of doing them, do the things that are important for your business instead.

When I do this to my to-do list I instantly have a slew of reasons pop into my head about why those things need to be done.

For the above-mentioned password updating it was “but now that app doesn’t complain nearly as much as it did about passwords” or “now my security score is so much better!”

Those things didn’t actually cost me any time before I changed it. They weren’t important.

For some of the other things on my list, it’s thoughts like “but getting those things off my list will feel really good” or “these things can be knocked off my to-do list quickly” or “they’ve been on my list to do for a while now, I should do them”.

But they don’t need to be done. Nothing will be negatively impacted if I do them next week or next month.

What are those things for you?

What are your tasks that really do need to be done?

And if everything feels like it’s important and needs to be done, reach out and let’s talk. The easiest way to do that is to leave a comment or fill out the Contact Me form here.

PRODUCTIVITY FOR SOLOPRENEURS: INSIGHTS TO GETTING THINGS DONE #112

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #111 / How to exercise your "no" muscle

How to exercise your “no” muscle

Last week we talked about boundaries.

One of the skills that can help you with honoring your business boundaries is the ability to clearly say no.

Saying “no” is a muscle. Like any muscle, it needs to be exercised to be strong.

Saying “no” is also a gift.

Yes, it’s a gift for yourself, but it’s also a gift for the other person.

Think back to a time where someone seemed interested in your service or product.

Maybe you asked them if they were interested in more information or purchasing.

If they said “not right now” or “maybe later” then you reached out to them again later.

If they said “this isn’t something I’m interested in” or “no” then you didn’t reach out to them again.

When they clearly said “no” you didn’t spend any more of your time reaching out to them.

The same thing happens you’re able to clearly and confidently say no to something you know you’re not interested in. That person no longer reaches out to see if your answer is going to change (saving them time) and you don’t have to spend your time answering the question again.

So, only say “not right now” or “maybe later” when it’s true.

There’s a group that has reached out two or three times to ask me to join. I honestly might be interested later, but now’s not the time. I tell them that and I expect that I’ll be asked about it again in another year or so.

Here’s a quick “how to say no” guide:

  1. Be brief.
    You don’t need to explain everything that went into making your decision. You can say “That doesn’t work with my schedule” or “That’s not the right fit for me.”
    Or saying no can be as simple as saying “No”.
  2. Be honest.
    Don’t make something up to get out of something.  You’ll both feel better about it later and you don’t have to keep track of fibs.
  3. Say “No”.
    Seems straight forward right?
    Remember phrases like “I think that” or “right now” or “I’m not sure” make the other person think you might change your mind later. 
    Be clear with your response and let them know you’re not interested.
  4. Repeat. 
    Even when you’re clear with someone, they might ask you again later to see if anything has changed. 
    Be kind and let them know the answer hasn’t changed.

If this topic feels like it’s impacting you personally, and you’d like some help, let’s talk! The easiest way to set that up is by applying for coaching by clicking here.

PRODUCTIVITY FOR SOLOPRENEURS: INSIGHTS TO GETTING THINGS DONE #111

https://youtu.be/57vkTR6cJbU
Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #110 / Rethinking the boundaries of your business

Rethinking the boundaries of your business

I was listening to the Being Boss podcast yesterday and one of the topics they covered was setting boundaries—both personal and business boundaries.

It was a really interesting conversation.

And I like analogies and the one that came to mind for boundaries are the very real boundaries you literally have when you own a home with a yard.

Your property has boundaries.

You are aren’t responsible for the things that are outside the boundaries of your yard—that’s your neighbor’s responsibility.

If your neighbor has a garden that’s gotten a bit unruly, well, that’s their responsibility—you might notice it, but you getting upset about it doesn’t do anything for either of you.

However, you might also notice that a neighbor (or just a yard you’re driving by) has some feature or garden or something that you really like. You might make a note of it to do something similar in your yard.

And occasionally, you have a situation where there’s a neighbors tree that’s at or near the boundary that extends over into your yard – if it’s causing you problems (scraping against your house or garage) or is in danger of falling onto your property, THEN you have a reason to be concerned about it and maybe have a conversation with your neighbor about it.

In business it’s similar—don’t worry about the things other people are doing in their business. Yes, notice what you like and don’t like, but if it’s not affecting you, and you don’t like it, don’t worry about it.

Boundaries do more than tell us what’s outside our realm of responsibility though.

They also tell us what IS our responsibility.

So often we talk about our business boundaries in terms of what is on the outside. The things we don’t or won’t do. The times we’re NOT available.

What if instead, you thought about your boundaries in terms of what’s on the inside, the things you ARE responsible for?

The things you do, the things you include, how you show up, when you are available, or the emails you respond to.

If you’re having problems identifying your boundaries and what you exclude or don’t do, maybe it’s time to focus on what’s inside those boundaries and figure out what’s not later.

If this topic feels like it’s impacting you personally, and you’d like some help, let’s talk! The easiest way to set that up is by applying for coaching by clicking here.

PRODUCTIVITY FOR SOLOPRENEURS: INSIGHTS TO GETTING THINGS DONE #110