I’m a big fan of to-do lists. There is no better tool to use when you’re looking to fool yourself into thinking that you’ve been productive.
I still like to-do lists but I simply can’t afford the time to use them anymore, I have to be productive. You see, I used to put all kinds of stuff on my to-do list: wash the car, pay the bills, make a tee time, call back an unhappy customer, you know, all the stuff that takes up our day.
Each morning I’d look over my list and get “busy.” What do you suppose I did first? Yep, I got that tee time set up and I felt plenty good about it. I’d get the car washed and almost felt like celebrating cause half my to-do list was already complete.
However there was a little something else on my to-do list. It was apparently important because I wrote it down but it wasn’t any more important than my tee time, it was just another task on my list. That’s the best thing about a to-do list, it allows us to avoid doing the things we don’t like to do (calling back an unhappy customer, for instance) in favor of doing the things we do like. The bonus is that at the end of the day we can look at our list and “see” how busy we have really been. It can be very fulfilling. It can also be very misleading.
The most successful people understand the vast difference between being merely busy and being truly productive.
Productive people rarely use to-do lists, instead they use a tool called a Prioritized Daily Task List. A Prioritized Daily Task List is simple to develop but a serious challenge to use. It will take discipline and more discipline to use it well. If you have the willpower to make it work for you then you’ll accomplish more in a day than you ever thought possible.
Here’s how it works; write down all the tasks that you must accomplish for any given day. Next, prioritize them in order of importance. You can use number one through whatever or use letters instead, the important thing is to be honest and realistic. Understand the difference between what must be done and what would be nice to get done.
Now, here’s the hard part: don’t allow yourself to move to letter “b” until letter “a” is complete. Don’t even think about “b” until “a” is complete. Nothing relating to “b” should be in site until “a” is complete. No matter how much you don’t want to do “a” and how much you do want to do “b” finish “a” before starting “b.”
Some tasks will take multiple days to complete and in those cases simply break the larger tasks into smaller pieces and do parts of it each day and do it first if it’s the most important task to accomplish that day.
A Prioritized Daily Task List will make a difference for you in 2013, I’m certain of it. I’m also pretty certain what should be “1” or “A” on your very first Prioritized Task List of 2013.
Develop a Prioritized DO NOT DO Task List for 2013. Your success in 2013 will be influenced by two factors, one of course is what you do. They other, and equally important factor is what you don’t do.
We all have “time wasters” in our lives; stuff, and maybe people, that just suck our time away. They usually add nothing or very little to our lives, all they do is decrease our productivity and maybe our enjoyment of life.
Invest some time determining what the “time wasters” are in your life and make a Prioritized List (the biggest time waster should be your top priority) and eliminate them in order of importance.
Keep your Prioritized DO NOT DO List close by throughout 2013, some of those “time wasters” may try to creep their way back into our day and you might need to remind yourself from time to time how they made your list in the first place.
One more thought… these are YOUR lists, they should help you reach YOUR goals. What someone else sees as unimportant you may decide for YOUR reasons is very important. In cases like that always remember this: YOU win! It’s your list, they are your goals and it’s your life.
Live it the way you want! To heck with the naysayers!