“Whaaaat???” I hear you shriek! “But I live my life off To Do Lists – they’re EVERYWHERE. I couldn’t be without them!!”
And that used to be true for me too.
I have a master list of all my goals.
An annual list.
A list of things I want to achieve in a month.
A list of things I want to achieve in a week.
And a list for that day.
So MANY lists. Written in different places. Stuck in diaries and books and sticky notes on my desk and my fridge.
So Reason Number One why To Do Lists suck is:
They can be ignored – acidentally or on purpose.
A list hidden in a diary – if you don’t open the diary – doesn’t get seen. It isn’t reminding you that you have things to do.
A list on a fridge can easily be covered with art work of the week or an impending bill.
A sticky label falls off (anything but PostIt Notes tend to do that as far as I’m concerned!) and your list is gone!
A master list you keep neatly in a file with loads of other notes is useless if the file just sits on a shelf looking organised…
Reason Number Two: They’re overwhelming.
Seriously, my master list is HUGE!
There’s so much stuff on there.
Some days I look at it and think… how the heck am I going to get all this done in ten life times never mind just one?
And that doesn’t inspire me to get more done, it inspires me to put it off for another day to two, or 300.
I felt overwhelmed looking at my list and when I feel overwhelmed, I tend to run in the opposite direction. I really don’t like not having a plan and not having a path forward. I’m not sure about you but maybe you can resonate with how I used to feel.
And my final reason why you need to ditch the To Do Lists is:
They’re often not specific enough. When you’re looking to break down bigger tasks into manageable chunks, writing down something like ‘Get 2 New Clients’ isn’t going to help you.
HOW are you going to get those clients? How are those clients going to find you? Where do you need to show up for them? What content do you need to be providing for them? Who do you need to speak to?
So I’m not going to write this post and tell you to rip up all your To Do lists without giving you something to do instead.
The IDEA behind to do lists is actually a great one.
Writing down your goals and what you want to achieve is a really great thing to do and is something I work on with ALL my clients.
I highly recommend that you journal your ideas for large and small projects. Get everything out in one book so that everything is in ONE place. Ideas, big and small. People you meet who inspire you. Things you learn. Places you’ve been, etc.
THEN instead of putting the things on a To Do List. I want you to get SPECIFIC as to WHEN you’re going to get the things done.
So now’s the time to get out your diary – I use a written diary as well as a digital Calendar which sends me prompts and reminders – so that I map out my days knowing exactly what I’ll be doing and when.
Even social events, relaxation and playing with the kids.
At the end of the year – plan out your goals for next year.
And the end of the month, plan out what you want to achieve next month.
On a Sunday afternoon/evening, plan out your week.
Each night, plan out your following day.
Try to do it the day/ night before as opposed to that morning so that your brain can make a plan for the following day and sleep well knowing that it’s all organised.
For each day, put exactly when you’re going to do something. Fill your diary with all the things that need doing. Grocery shopping, walking the dog, picking up the kids as well as all the work things that need to be done.
Block out your time to get a job done at a specific time.
When you have larger projects, work backwards. Decide when you want to have the project completed by and work out all the jobs that will need to done and in what order. Then put them in your diary on specific months, weeks and days.
If something will take 30 minutes to complete, close off that time to getting that one job done. Emails and phone calls can wait for 30 minutes! if it’s longer, split it into manageable chunks and allocate the time for each.
You can do this MONTHS in advance. Write in your diary that you want to spend 2 hours planning a holiday in June that you want to take.
Write off a weekend in November for Christmas shopping in March!
Just write it down and then you KNOW that you have allocated a time for it. Then it will be achieved. Your brain can then release the task. It doesn’t have to be rattling about up there making sure you don’t forget it and you can focus on other things.
Finally, have the discipline to stick to your plan; yet also have the flexibility to move things around when you need to. That’s why I love Google calendar because you can just slide a task or event to another time and it will still send you all the reminder to get it done.
If you would like help to get your master list sorted or you have a big project that is feeling a little overwhelming and you would like someone to help you chunk it down and someone to push you through getting everything done and then some, then you might be interested in having some coaching with me. Check out my Work With Me page and let’s get you organised and well on the way to achieving your goals.