I know you can write a to-do list, but do you know The Correct Way to Create Your To Do List? Chances are, the answer is a big fat NO. And you don’t even know it.
(PSS – I have a
checklist mini-workbook for you too! Keep reading!)
Let’s get started
First, let’s do a quick experiment. Grab a piece of paper and just jot down a to-do list. Brain dump it all. (This will be oh-so-much easier if you download my checklist! Actually, it’s more like a mini-workbook.) Take just 3 – 5 minutes. It’s okay – I’ll wait.
(cue Final Jeopardy music)
Alrighty, let’s take a look at your list. What’s on it?
- Write a blog post
- Find an image for the said blog post
- Call Sphere of Influence (SOI) – 150 names
- Check email
- Send postcards I have sitting on my desk
- Update database
- Update Facebook
- Take out the garbage
- Pick up the mail
- Call Joe
- Schedule photographer for new listing
- Create new listing presentation
Yeah, I get it. Mine used to look like that, too.
You can mark most of that off right from the beginning.
The number one mistake most people make with their list is to brain dump. Yes, I told you to do that but that’s because that is how most people do it. It’s okay to do it as a first draft.
What is a Brain Dump? It sounds painful
A brain dump is something you should do at least weekly, to clear your memory. See, your brain is a processing plant, not a storage facility. When you tell yourself that you’ll remember something without writing it down you’re really only fooling yourself. You MIGHT remember it but probably at the expense of forgetting something else you said you could remember as well.
Grab a tablet – or, better yet, my mini-workbook!- and just start writing down everything in your brain – everything you need to do, want to do – everything. Don’t edit it. Scribbling is fine. No matter how small it is, write it down.
When you’re done, admire your shiny, empty brain.
You said I have to mark stuff off?
Yep, that’s our second step.
Look over your list now.
Get out your pencil and practice writing T.
Now, look at each task on the list. If it can be done in 20 minutes or less, mark it with a T. T is for task.
What’s left on the list are PROJECTS. Ya know …. P. But don’t waste your ink writing it yet.
Put the projects on another list and we’ll talk about them in a minute. If you have any tasks on the T list that are related to the projects, take them off and keep them with the proper project. We’ll get to them.
Take those first tasks, those 20 minute-or-less ones, and group them together according to type. Can you combine any? You can check the mail when you mail the postcards. You can pick up the phone and call Joe and then call the photographer while you’re on a roll.
Chances are you’ll start to add other tasks or projects and that’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you are adding them to the right list.
Prioritize the task list
Easy peasy – just use 1, 2 and 3. You can have more than one 1, more than one 2, more than one 3. Just don’t use more than 1, 2, and 3. Now work on the 1’s. Then the 2’s and then the 3’s. At the end of the week, rewrite the list with the remaining tasks, add any new ones, and renumber. Rinse and repeat weekly.
So let’s pull out that PROJECT list …
Let’s put each project on its own sheet, titles only. Any of those tasks that are on the list that are related to the projects should go on its project sheet. We’ll deal with them shortly.
Look at each Project Sheet
Is it an ongoing project like calling your 150 SOI or updating your database? Put ON-GOING next to the title.
Is it a one time project like creating a new listing presentation? Put ONE-TIME next to the title.
Now Brain Dump … AGAIN
For each ONE-TIME project, brain dump the tasks for it on the project sheet. It doesn’t have to be in order when you dump and you’ll probably be adding more anyway. You’ll put numbers by the tasks to order them a little later on.
Ask Yourself – Which projects are the priority?
Lay them out (the ONE-TIME projects) and decide which one needs to be done first. Then second. You get the idea. Put a goal date for completion on each. I wouldn’t work on more than 3 at a time. Remember to order them according to which ones NEED to be done first versus those you prefer to be done first.
Take your first three and set the others aside. As things come to mind for the ones set aside, you can add to the list – but don’t order the tasks yet. You don’t need the distraction.
Take those top 3 one-time projects
Okay, now you can order the tasks – but not so fast, Chief! – using a numbered list and then using the T and P method. Remember the T is for tasks that can be done in 20 minutes or less and the P tasks are projects. We may have tasks that are longer and need to be a P and broken down into smaller tasks. You can do that now.
Really scrutinize your timeline – can you really get them done by your goal date? Be brutal with yourself. Break them down into phases and give those phases a goal date as well.
PS: There’s no shame in modifying your goal date! Give yourself some grace!
Can you outsource any of them?
Can you delegate any of them in-house?
You can notate them now with ME for you and O for out-source and D for delegate if necessary.
As you look over the sheet, remember this: You don't have to do it all - you just have to do what matters.Click To Tweet
See? You CAN create your To Do list!!
Okay, so these 3 projects need to be done in 3 months – now what?
Break the tasks down into 3 sections so you have a month worth of tasks for each project. You can break them down into weeks after that as well. Those 20-minute-or-less tasks can now be added to your daily To-Do lists according to your goal dates. That way, you can continue to move forward with the projects without stressing about doing them in a week or – egad! – never actually completing them. Trust me; this will help you create your To Do list.
If you have smaller projects or can break your 3-month projects into smaller parts, check out my post 5 Simple Steps Explode Focus When Completing a Looming Project. I included an awesome project planner with that one!
Great! Now, what about those ongoing projects?
I didn’t forget those!
Chances are pretty good that all you have for them are the titles. Things like the database updating and calling your SOI are going to take more than 20 minutes to completely complete – if you need to complete them at all! Those are perfect projects for delegation, especially the database work. Most calling tasks are easily delegated, but you may want to work with that SOI list yourself.
How do I do my SOI calling?
You can do the SOI calling in two different ways.
- Print the list of contacts out of your database and call 20 – 30 minutes per day and work your way through the list. Make notes as you go and hand over to the person you delegated to update the database, making sure they note the date you last spoke to the contact. If you don’t get them on the line at first you may redial a person 3 times (or 5 – up to you!) you can put them aside and send a handwritten note and have it notated in the database as well.
- Or, sit down yourself with the database and call in 20 – 30-minute blocks, updating the database as you go. Remember to add the dates!
There are still things on that list up there!
Yes, there are. There are some things you may be doing that slow you down from completing actual money-making activities or they may be keeping your focus off of those 3 main projects you need to work on. Things like updating Facebook. Major time-suck! You may get on there to update a status for 5 minutes and two hours later, you’re still in your newsfeed! Sure, you can write a blog post and find a photo, but it will probably take about 2 hours – or more. You could have been doing project tasks to get you closer to your goals or previewing homes for a buyer.
Is “organizing my database” on of your on-going projects? (Hint: It should be! Without it you have no business!)
Check out my post “Organizing Your Database Quickly and Easily” for help on that one!
That sounds like a lot to do.
Whoa. That’s a lot of steps!!
I get it. That’s why I created a
checklist mini-workbook for you! It has all the information you need to create your To Do list. You should copy it out and clip it to each project so you can stay on task. Don’t forget to tell me how you like it!
Grab it below!
I’d love if you’d share so please click the image below to pin it! Thanks!