Don't Make This Mistake with Your To Do List

A to do list

So, you have a gazillion things on your to do list and a finite amount of time in which to get them done.

In other words, a day just like every other day.

You have done your homework, learned to determine how much available time you have to get things done and you are now staring, with glazed eyes, at an overwhelmingly long to do list.

Let’s go through your list and begin making decisions.

The first step is to divide your list into two categories. The first category will contain those items that meet the following definition: every time you perform that action or task you move 1 mm, or more, closer to the attainment of a goal or stated objective.

These actions or tasks are called Directional Activities and you will have very few of them.

What is a Directional Activity?

When you initially write your to do list, you will invariably place several items in the Directional Activities column. It is imperative that you critically review each item to ensure that it meets the definition that it moves you closer to your goal.

Your final Directional Activities list will rarely, if ever, contain more than three or four items per goal.

Once your list is complete and you are satisfied it is correct, write the number 5 next to each item.

All remaining items fall into the second category, Important.

Carefully review this list with two purposes in mind. The first purpose is best explained by Peter Drucker,

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

In other words, does every item on your to do list truly deserve a place there or is it simply there because it has always been there.

For many, this is an opportunity to select those that make the cut and discard the rest.

An Opportunity to Prioritize

With your list culled, prioritize the items in terms of importance. Write the number 4 next to the most important ones, then select those that are worthy of a 3, then 2 and finally, 1.

Use urgency to help separate the 4’s from the 3’s and so on.

Now let’s revisit the amount of available time you have. A rule of thumb suggests you commit 75% of your available time to your Directional Activities and the remaining 25% to those you have listed as being Important by choosing from your 4’s, 3’s, 2’s and 1’s.

Do this three or four days each week and on the other one or two days spend 75% of your available time on doing those things deemed Important and 25% on your Directional Activities.

Remember the steps.
1. Determine how much available time you have.
2. Choose wisely from your Directional Activities and Important lists.
3. Excel.
4. Be delighted.

There will be items on your to do list that you will not get to for some time. Remember our premise: I can do anything, I just can’t do everything.

As we have learned, if it takes 10 minutes to clean one window then we can only clean six windows in one hour. Regardless of how many windows we would like to clean, it is math not desire that will determine reality.

And when you put the math to work on your side, you will be delighted with what you accomplish. If you think your team could use some guidance through this process, that is what I'm here for. 

Till we read again.

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