Is It Time to Ditch the To-Do List?

How to Move The Needle in Your Business
Photo by Thomas Bormans on Unsplash

Have you ever gone grocery shopping with your trusty to-do list, only to reach your car and realize you forgot something important? I’ll admit it; this has happened to me more times than I care to say. Usually, this happens because I’m not focused on the task at hand.

I’ve spent hours creating lists, thinking I was boosting my productivity, only to end up with lists scattered about and barely any tasks crossed off. When I finally gather the courage to face the mess on my desk, I’m confronted with a pile of half-done to-do lists.

That’s when the guilt and shame creep in: “I need to get more organized. I should manage my time better. I need to…” But let’s face it, these thoughts don’t help us move forward. Usually, I mull it over for a bit and then hastily create yet another to-do list. Sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it?

So, how do we break free from this cycle?

Recently, I was recommended this awesome book, “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan (check it out here.) Chapter 3, delves into our love-hate relationship with to-do lists and how they often make us feel more accomplished than we actually are. Be honest, have you ever added something to your list just to cross it off and feel good about yourself? I’m certainly guilty of that!

High achievers understand the art of tackling the one thing that truly matters. For most of us, it’s that one task constantly sitting at the bottom of the list; the one intimidating thing we keep shifting to next week’s to-do list. The book asks a magical question: “What’s the one thing that, if you did it, would make everything else easier or unnecessary?”

Most of us know our “one thing,” but we often find excuses to delay it. For me, it was something as simple as reaching out to people and asking if I could add their email addresses to my newsletter list.

I had built it up in my mind, thinking I needed a tantalizing offer to draw them in. But in reality, my newsletter is just a way to offer valuable content to potential clients or anyone who might find it useful.

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up to beat procrastination and get things done:

  1. Find Your Top Priority: Multitasking is a myth, and I’ve learned that focusing on one thing at a time is the way to go. As the saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” You choose the one thing that’s crucial for your business and give it your all. Once you master it, you can move on to the next.
  2. Ignore the Distractions: Shiny object syndrome and social media gurus can be major distractions. They make you think you’re missing out on the “next big thing.” Staying focused on your one thing will help your business more than any trendy distractions out there. If you want to try something, make a note of it and come back to it later. Some people use sticky notes; I use Google Keep, so I don’t clutter up my desk.
  3. Set a Bold Four-Week Goal: Make your one thing audacious and slightly scary. Pick something that lights a fire under you and makes you excited to jump out of bed.
  4. Be Flexible: Life happens, and we often underestimate the time it takes to get things done. It’s crucial to be adaptable and adjust your plans when needed.
  5. Find an accountability partner or team: There is power in numbers, so find someone you can partner with or join an accountability team.

    Last week, I joined an accountability challenge and it’s propelled my business forward. Knowing others are watching, cheering you on, and supporting you will help keep you going when you want to quit. We were not created to fulfill our purpose alone.

In the end, the “One Thing” philosophy teaches us to focus on what really matters and avoid the traps of procrastination and multitasking. It’s all about doing less but doing it better, and it’s a great way to boost your productivity. It’s the key to unlocking your true potential.

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