Have you ever looked at your to-do list for the day and said, “there is NO way that I can get all of that done today?” Well, you are not alone. When it comes to writing out our list, we tend to think that every thing that we have ever thought about doing needs to be on that list for today.
In the MOJO Monday video today, I talked about this very thing. If focus is a problem, start with only three action items on your to-do list each day. Add more as you complete those. If you didn’t catch the video on Facebook, take a few minutes and watch it now and see if it becomes more clear for you.
Hear me out. Everything that you want to do does need to be on a list, but not your daily to-do list…everyday. Let me explain. Each month I take out my ‘book’ and do what I call a brain drain to be sure that I capture all of the goals, projects, dreams, items and ideas that I want to do something about or with during the month. That becomes my ‘Goals and Projects list’ for the month. (see item 2 in the examples below)
As I talked about in the video, it is important that your to-do list only contain those items you are PREPARED to do. It’s kind of like you are climbing a ladder to the top of your goal or project each day. All of the steps are important, but take them one at a time…and in the right order. Here is a breakdown of the steps that I use to create my monthly, weekly, and daily action plans.
You can purchase a calendar, print one from your computer, use a white board, or many other options. I prefer to draw mine each month so everything I need is in my book and with me at all times. I leave the column on the left empty and once planning for the week is done, I go back and add the projects that I will be working on during that week. Be sure to add all of your standing appointments and commitments, as well as times that you will be unavailable to work on your goals and projects. NOTE: You can also use this as your editorial calendar for blogging and posting. We will talk more about that in another post.
This is where that “brain drain” information goes each month. I tend to have a pattern that I follow, even in the free flowing brain drain. I think of my goals and projects in three specific categories: Personal, Financial, and Business. For my Goals and Projects spread in the book, I start on the left page with the three categories for my goals and then move to the right side page with the same three categories, but here are the projects needed to complete the desired goals. I do not break these into steps at this point. That comes later. The two pages work well together because I first have to decide what my goals are for the month before I can determine what projects I need to work on. The basic goals start from my annual and quarterly planning and then fall into the respective months based on the timeline for each of the goals.
Monthly Progress Tracker
I used to make this list every week but found that I really was more motivated when I could see my progress for the entire month at a glance. I created a spreadsheet with the daily commitments for business and/or personal life. There is a section for daily business tasks, weekly commitments, and personal. If one of the items is not a solid habit, I also write it on my daily to-do, but I like to come to the monthly tracker to see my progress day-to-day in real time. The page is created at 8.5 x 11 but I print it reduced to fit my particular book. I attach it to the book with double sided tape and a rubber bank. (The tape tends to pull during the month with daily flipping to the page and the rubber band holds it in place. At the end of the month, I tape all of the edges and it holds in place.
I start with the list of all of the goals that I would like to accomplish within the month and I designate a week (based on the timeline of the goal) where I will focus on that goal and either accomplish the whole goal, or take the actions needed to get to the next benchmark. This is the core of the planning for the week. I focus on the goals that I want to achieve and the projects that I need to accomplish to complete the goal – or reach the desired benchmark. I take the necessary time with each of the projects and add the individual tasks needed to climb the ladder to the top. At this point, each of the entries under the project is an independent action item. Many of the items are dependent on other items being completed first. The idea of an action plan is to begin with the first action that needs to be completed to start up the ladder. Then the next, the next, and so on. For some, this may be a good stopping point and you can work your week from this point. I have implemented it like that and found that personally, I need daily action steps in front of me to be the most productive.
This is where the rubber meets the road. And sadly, it is this stage that frustrates any of us. There are too many items on the list and we don’t know where to start first or which is really the most important. I have used the process to mark them by priority, but with so many on the list, it is impossible to get them in the right order. This is where I mentioned in the video to take only three action items from your project list or your goal list and write them on the list. It is important that the step is the first (or next, if the project has already been worked on) step that you need to take. Before you write it on the list for the day, confirm that you have everything that you need to take that step. If not, whatever you need to obtain or do to complete that step is actually the first step. Don’t be afraid to break these down into small steps. It is often a case of overwhelm when you do not have your tasks broken into actual action steps. The second page in the spread is for notes, quotes, and other items that I want easy access to.
You might be saying, “whew Coach Deb, that looks like a lot of work.” It is work but is allows me to get more done in less time – even including the planning time! I find that if I do not take it to this level, I can spend a half, or sometimes a whole day and accomplish absolutely nothing that I wanted to accomplish.
This way is not for everyone. If you have a system that works for you, don’t change a thing! But, if you don’t have a system in place that enables you to make the progress that you are looking for, give this a try.
I started this current process after seeing a video about a Bullet Journal process. That company has grown and they do have their own planner now. I understand it is still flexible, but I prefer to continue to work with what works for me. My preference for my blank book is the Ecosystem and you can find it by clicking the “books” tab on the right side of the blog. (That is my Amazon store and I will be adding products that I use from time to time. It is an affiliate link so should you choose to purchase, Amazon will pay me a commission. There is no additional cost for you to use the link.)
I hope you will give some of these ideas a try. Open a conversation in the comments and let’s talk about what you use now, how it is working, and what you might be open to change.
That’s it for today. Let’s go be productive.
Remember to: Dream big. Believe in yourself. Then, let’s do the work.
Whatever it takes, right?