What happens when you work from a weekly list without a daily list

Last week I came across an article that was a compilation of productivity advice from around 10 different small business owners.

The first person they listed advised something to the effect of pick 3 things to do each day instead of having a long to-do list.

A couple of people later someone’s advice was a daily to-do list is too constraining, instead create a weekly to-do list and do the tasks as you feel like doing them.

Soooo, which is it?

I wish these lists would come with a bit more information about the person and their company.

Do they have a personal assistant? Is there a large team supporting them? Does he spend most of his time in meetings? Is his weekly to-do list already very short? Is he marking his weekly list with the one or two tasks that are the highest priority for the day?

If I had to guess, the person who thinks you should work off of a weekly to-do list and do tasks as you feel like doing them has a really great personal assistant who’s encouraging him/her to do the important things that are buried in that weekly list and they might not feel like doing.

My experience with clients and my own personal experience is that when you’re working from a weekly list without a daily list one of three scenarios will generally play out:

  1. You end up doing all the fun and exciting and maybe even easy things that the beginning of the week. Which means at the end of the week you have all the things you don’t care to do or require more energy. And then something isn’t going to be done because it’s exhausting and you didn’t budget your energy/attention very well.
  2. The beginning of the week feels like you have all the time in the world to get the things on your list complete. So, you dilly-dally or spend more time than you need to on the tasks you do decide to work on and suddenly there’s A LOT left to do on Thursday and Friday.
  3. You’re so overwhelmed by your list of things that you want/need to get done this week that you do very little or nothing. Or you bounce around a lot because there are so many high priority tasks that need to be done NOW.

You might have guessed that between the options of working from a weekly list or a pick 3 things to do for the day – I’d go with picking 3 things.

More to the point, I recommend creating a daily to-do list in whatever format works best for you. If that’s a list of three things, great! If that’s formatted some other way, great!

To the business owner that finds a daily to-do list too constraining, I’d love to know how you’ve created your daily list in the past. There are many different ways to create it that allow you to get things done in an efficient way and do things that work with your energy and attention level for that day.

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 #107

Lots To Do! And Enough Time?

Cup Of Hot CoffeeLast week I wrote about focusing on one task. The three steps to put your focus on the one thing you’re working on right now.

Well, I set up one day last week with no appointments so I could have the day to only get stuff done. Many of the items on my list that day where 30 minute tasks or less. So, I had about 15 items on my list.

Normally, I would tell a client (and myself) that 15 tasks are too many things! However, they were small tasks and I was pretty sure that there was enough time to do everything.

When I sat down at the beginning of the day, even though I knew they were smaller tasks, I wondered how I was possibly going to get everything done. It was a bit overwhelming to look at that list!

I reread my post for the week and decided to pull out my sticky notes. On those, I wrote the tasks that I wanted to complete in the next two hours. I wrote down four things, stuck it on top of my list of 15 and went to work. Somehow just looking at that smaller list was a lot more reassuring.

I didn’t have to have everything done now. I was able to focus on the current task and then move on to the next one quickly.

At the end of the day I didn’t have everything done. However, I learned a bit about what not to do in my day (don’t schedule reading a book, even a business book, after lunch because I won’t put it down after my allotted reading time is complete). And left enough wiggle room in that day’s and the next day’s schedule that it didn’t completely throw me for a loop the rest of the week.

And, when I reviewed what I accomplished, I felt extremely satisfied! I was able to get a lot done and address my overwhelm in a constructive way.

Because I like bullet points, this is the take away from my experience:

  • If your list looks too long and overwhelming, break it into smaller pieces. What will you finish in the next 2 hours?
  • Leave some buffer time in your day. Tasks can take longer than you anticipate or unexpected tasks or other things pop up. When you leave yourself some buffer time you’re able to absorb the unknown without it throwing you for a loop.
  • Review your day and make a note of what did and didn’t work that day. Use that knowledge of how you work best (or don’t work best) in future planning.
  • Review your day for your successes (or wins). We often forget this part. Pat yourself on the back for the things you accomplished, whether they are the tasks you completed, the way a situation was handled or the way you handled or managed yourself.

Basically, a successful day can be broken up into three parts: preparing, doing and reviewing (with today’s focus being on the preparing and reviewing).

Where do you get hung up with getting things done? Let me know in the comments below!

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are You Over Complicating It?

exclamation girlHave you ever over complicated something? You realize later, or someone points out to you that you could have easily done y instead of x and saved yourself a lot of time and energy.

If you don’t catch it early, it’s frustrating, right?

Do you do that with your business?

You assume that a task or project is going to be difficult and you quickly prove yourself right. Until someone comes along and offers a suggestion that renders half of your plans obsolete and you wonder, could it really be that easy?

If you haven’t already read last week’s article, “How Do You Want Your Morning to Feel?” go back and read it.

I wrote about two morning scenarios. Some of you might have read the second one and thought, “That’s a great dream, but it’s just not possible for me.”

I get it. Between you and me, I’ve had that same thought before. Mine sounded like “Planning is a great idea, but I just don’t have time for that!”

What if you’re over complicating your business? What if it’s hard to get everything done because that’s exactly what you expect?

Our brains like to be right. So, often just thinking “hey, this is going to be difficult” makes something feel, well, difficult.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you just start telling yourself, “hey, this easy and I’ll get everything done today” Your brain is smart, it’s not going to believe that.

Does this mean that you’re going to get that page long to-do list done today? Probably not, however, what would change if you looked at your page long to-do list and instead of thinking, “Ugh! I have so much to do it seems impossible!” you thought, “Great! I know what needs to happen over the next few days, what can I do today?”

But what if you started asking yourself, “What if this was easy?” And left yourself open to that possibility. Or asked yourself, “What would I do differently if this were easy?”

Allow the possibilities. Invest a few minutes of your time to sit with it and allow yourself to feel the possibility.

And let me know what you discover in the comments below.

Business Woman Writing In Notebook

Staying Focused

Business Woman Writing In NotebookBack when I was a computer programmer, my job included a lot of troubleshooting for clients. So, when something wasn’t working right, it was my job to (1) determine what the problem was and (2) fix it or find a work around and report it to development.

What does that mean? It means that was no shortage of options when it came to what to work on each day. Quite frankly, some days it was hard to stay focused because there were many important tasks I could be working on at any moment.

Now, fast forward a couple years, I’m an entrepreneur working from home. While I don’t get phone calls from clients with websites or software that’s not working, I still have a lot of important tasks I could be doing for my business at any one moment. And because I work from home, there are also a lot of personal things I could be doing.

And of course, at home, no one but me is going to notice if I’m watching TV, YouTube or doing something else instead of working on one of those important tasks (well, my husband might start to notice).

So, how do you stay focused to work on those important tasks?

Here are some things you can do or consider:

  • Lists. You’ve taken the time to write down all the tasks that you need to do. Yes, it took some time that you could have used working, but it also saved you all that time and energy of worrying that you’re going to forget to do something. And when you remember something else, you have a spot to write it down so you don’t forget it (hint: it’s that same list, don’t start a new one!).
  • Plan tomorrow at the end of today. When you don’t have to think about what the next thing is to do, because you already planned it out, it’s easier to jump into the next task. It’s another reason why creating your master or weekly list is so important.
  • Clarity. You are clear on why the task is important to you, your business and your goals. You know that this task by itself might not be important, it is important to your larger goals.
  • Minimize Distractions.
    • Email / Phone – Close your email (yes, really do that!) and silence your phone. This way you have a solid period of time to work without distractions.
    • Family – You’ve also let others in the house know you’re working and should not be disturbed for 1-hour (or whatever period of time you need) or until you open your office door. However, once the time is up, go engage with your family, play with your kids for a half hour or talk to your husband. Why do this? If your family knows that you’ll emerge from your office and be there for them, they’re more likely to leave you alone for a bit.
    • Noise – If there is distracting noise (or distracting quiet – yes, I occasionally find silence very distracting), find some soothing music to play in the background. Pandora or Spotify are great for that.
  • Just sit down and do it. Personally, this rarely works for me. I need to have one or more of the items above figured out before I can just sit down and do it. And I’m guessing, because you’re here, that you’re probably like me in this regard.

Anything else you do to stay focused on the task at hand? Share in the comments below!

Image courtesy of adamr/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Party Hat on Laptop

Celebrate That? But It Was Too Easy!

Party Hat on LaptopHow often have you reviewed your week and been frustrated because it seems like the BIG and difficult things didn’t get done?

Yes, maybe a lot of other things were completed, but those really don’t seem to count, because the really HARD thing didn’t get done. So, you automatically feel bad, and maybe guilty, for missing that target.

Why aren’t you excited about the things you did accomplish?

Sometimes we don’t give ourselves credit for the routine or simple things we do that support us and our businesses.

  • Did you send out you weekly or monthly newsletter/note to your subscribers? Congrats! How many weeks or months has that been going without interruption? Are you celebrating?
  • Did you get out of the house and go networking, even though you had items from yesterday’s to-do list undone? Congrats! You’re out there meeting people and strengthening existing connections!
  • Did you meet a personal goal this week? Congrats! You’re taking care of yourself so you can continue taking care of your business!
  • Did you have meetings with clients this week, timely follow up with them, or sell your product and deliver it? Congrats! You’re taking care of your customers!

I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea.

We often get caught up in everything that didn’t get done, goals that were missed and maybe opportunities that were lost.

We want to improve for next time, which is good! You want to review why something didn’t work and adjust for next time.

But we’re so busy focusing on those things that we miss some of the celebrations, big and small, that we could be having along the way.

So, I have a challenge for you: over the next 7 days, at the end of each day, write down what went right and what you accomplished. At the end of the 7 days, review it and have a little celebration for yourself! And come back here and share!

In the meantime, what have you already accomplished today? Share in the comments below!