Quick-Win Episode 7: Never Finish Your To-Do List
- Posted by Alessandra Kaminski
- On July 29, 2020
I know what you’re thinking; “Never finish your To-Do list is bad advice.” But hear us out! You always need to have something on your list to keep you moving forward. If you have completed everything on your list and have nothing left to do, this means you aren’t working towards anything.
In order to be successful in your business, it’s extremely important to eliminate stress, be efficient, and make sure you are always moving towards your goals. We’ve noticed that things that generate a lot of stress for self-employed business owners are often related to their To-Do lists.
Three common To DO list stressors business owners struggle with are:
- Unrealistic To-Do lists
- Not knowing what to do next
- The “Getting Ahead” Myth
How to Overcome Stress from Unrealistic To-Do Lists
We’ve all been guilty of creating To-Do lists that go on forever and are impossible to complete. We think that writing everything down on an epic list is the perfect way to relieve the stress we have of keeping everything in our heads. The reality is, these impossible To-Do lists end up adding to our stress because they are impossible to complete! This means we end every day with a never-ending list of things we didn’t get done and it’s deflating.
The way to fix this problem is to focus on making different To-Do lists. Your Daily To-Do list should only include tasks that you can actually complete that day. Force yourself to really consider how long something will take you to complete and make sure you are breaking down your tasks into their smallest form so you can easily check things off as you go. It’s not helpful to have giant tasks on your To-Do list that require multiple steps. This means that as you complete each step you have nothing to check off so it never feels like you are making progress. This can lead to stress! After focusing on your daily To-Do lists, think about breaking things down into different categories and making different lists to work off of.
Tips on Making Different To-Do Lists:
- Weekly Tasks
These are things that have to be done no matter what, like housekeeping. It’s not exciting but it’s got to be done.
- Client Tasks
These will constantly change as weeks go by, but if you’ve got a good client workflow process and a project management system in place, it should be simple to manage.
- Internal Business Tasks
Any time an idea pops into your head of something that you want to do or SHOULD do for your business, you need to write it down. Not on a sticky note, but in an organized place for your business tasks.
How to Overcome Stress from Not Knowing What to Do Next
When you don’t know what you should be doing for your business or your current clients/projects this can be really stressful. We use WRIKE to manage our projects and when we come up with things that need to be done, we create the task and keep it in a folder that we can pull from when we begin to make our next week’s agenda. Think of this as your “Backlog” that you can pull from whenever you aren’t sure what to do next or you have extra time. Believe me, when you properly plan a daily To-Do list, you’ll sometimes have “extra time” and this Backlog will come in really handy to keep things moving forward and avoid time-wasting.
If you have nothing on your list to do, it’s impossible to keep moving forward. For example, I like to always be reading a book so I keep a list of potential books that I can always pull from. A few months ago, I finished the book I was reading and realized that I didn’t have any more books on my Reading Wish List, and before I knew it an entire week had gone by without me reading!
How to Overcome Stress from The “Getting Ahead” Myth
I used to work tirelessly in my business to try and get EVERYTHING done so I could get ahead and relax. The reality is, it is impossible to “Get Ahead.” Think about it, if I ever actually finished EVERYTHING that needed to be done for our business, it would be the day we were no longer in business. Finishing your To-Do list means you are out of business.
There is always client work to do, bookkeeping, business development, organization, etc. If you actually finished everything, it would be because you had no work and no money coming in and effectively, NO BUSINESS.
- Organize your To-Do lists into different categories
- Make realistic daily To-Do lists
- Create a “Backlog” list with tasks you can pull from when needed
- Forget about trying to get ahead and focus on always moving forward
Host Bio – Rhi and Pete [Rhi-Pete – now you’ll remember] are a wife and husband team who have been in business together for over a decade. They run a creative media agency [Do Something Different Media] that provides strategy and consulting, video production, website development, photography, graphic design, and content writing for small businesses.