How To Beat The Dreaded To Do List

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  • October 19, 2015

Is there anything more frustrating than having a mile-long to do list and feeling like you are getting nothing done?

I’ve been interested in day-planning and productivity ever since I was a teenager, when homework started to pile up and I had to find a way to make time for socialising, watching football and reading about football (I was determined to become the next Eddie McGuire or Bruce McAvaney!)

As I entered the workforce and organised radio and television programs I had dozens of calls to make each day, papers to read, people to meet with and deadlines to keep, and so on!

Death By To Do List

By the time I started a business with my wife, Sarah, in 2008, I needed answers. My to do lists were becoming longer than War and Peace!

I don’t think I’m any different to you in that to do lists are a big part of most-people’s lives. And what I notice is that most people who have to do lists don’t feel great about the progress they are making. They feel bound and enslaved to their list and see no end in sight!

Most people feel like they lose more than they win. They focus and reflect more on what did NOT get done, rather than what did.

It’s time to do a reverse somersault on our belief systems around to do lists. They don’t make us feel good. They don’t engender us with enthusiasm and inspiration. In short, there has to be a better way!

It’s Time To Get A Little Selfish

I’m selfish by nature, and selfish in application. And I say that with tongue only partly in cheek. I love to think of my own wants and needs first. So it was with great relief that in 2007 I came across Tony Robbins Time of Your Life program, which banished the question, “What do I have to do today” and replaced it with “What do I WANT from today?”

What Do You Want?

Ever since that day I have ensured that I don’t begin each day with “What have I got to do today.” Instead, I ask “What do I want from today”. Some common answers for me on a typical day include –

  1. I want to have incredible energy and enthusiasm today
  2. I want to have some great family time
  3. I want to make significant progress in my business

Why do you want it?

Using these three examples, I then think of why I want them.

  1. I want incredible energy because it helps me enjoy great family time and makes it easier to make progress on my business.
  2. I want great family time because it enriches my soul, connects me to my wife and children and brings a beautiful pause to my day.
  3. I want to make progress in my business because it allows me to increase my influence on the world, share my message with people who need to hear it, and brings a greater sense of confidence and fulfilment that I am doing what I was born to do.

How do you want to experience it?

Once I know what I want and why I want it, I then ask “What am I going to do to fulfil those desires?”

  1. For energy, it’s all about exercising in the morning for me. There’s no doubt that when my energy is at a 10 during the day it’s on a day that I have exercised. If you ever see me and I am a little flat, guaranteed I haven’t exercised first thing.
  2. Experiencing quality family time for me is based around meal times during the week. I am fortunate to have created a lifestyle where I work from home and as a result I make an effort to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with the family. What I have noticed over cultivating this habit as much as possible over the last 5+ years is that our children crave family time and literally jump for joy on a Saturday and Sunday when they realise it’s “family day”.
  3. On my business front, I ensure I always start the day working on the most IMPORTANT items first. I do what I can to ensure I don’t have many urgencies in my business. I am an urgency addict by nature (I love deadlines and definitely do my best work under pressure), however I recognise that having to rush and scramble all day long is not sustainable.

Eat That Frog!

I isolate one, two or three tasks (max) that I desperately want to do on that day and get to work between 8:30 and 9am on those tasks. Some days, those “frogs” as Brian Tracy calls them, are done by lunch time. Sometimes, I just get them done by dinner. And sometimes, they take longer than expected and spill over to the next day.

That’s just life!

Priority And Duration

And finally, when I plan my day I ensure I PRIORITISE and estimate the DURATION of each task. I have a habit of planning to do 20 hours of work in 8 hours of actual time, so estimating duration is a great way for me to get a “reality check” (despite me being an eternal optimist), and cut out, delegate or reschedule some of these tasks.

However you plan your day, keeping in mind what you want from your day instead of what you have to do will ensure you experience a more fulfilling and exceptional day, week, month, year and life.

Question: How do you like to plan your days? Is there a productivity app or program you would like to share? Share your answer on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Recommended Resources

If you are ready to ramp up your own levels of organisation and productivity, I highly recommend the following –

Time of Your Life by Anthony Robbins

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy

Productivity Academy by Colin Boyd

Exceptional Productivity Blueprint by Marcus Pearce

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