Use this Hack to Get Your Most Important Work Done

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Hey there, it’s Mike Cooch with LVRG.

If you are an entrepreneur who is overwhelmed every day by that massive to-do list then this is a really, really important tip that can help you a lot.

I am, often, an entrepreneur who’s got a lot of different projects and multiple businesses. Add to that the fact that I have three kids, a personal life, and I’ve got all these other fun things to do.

I’m trying to do trips that can help my business and trips for myself too. You know, all that good stuff.

I am oftentimes steering at what seems like an endless list of to-dos and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

It’s easy to get scrambled up in my mind and spend way too much time trying to process that list and trying to determine what I should be spending time on. 

And then the worst thing is that I will end up spending time moving things forward that are not necessarily really important or really need to get done.

Project management

Now, if you are an entrepreneur, you probably have experienced the same feeling and you know that it’s costing you but maybe you don’t know what to do about it. 

I’m going to share with you a tip that I’ve incorporated into my personal goal setting and time management process here.

There has been a huge difference for me and I think it’ll make a big difference for you.

You see, I’ve never suffered from a shortage of motivation or work ethic. In fact, I have lots of motivation.

I’m willing to work as long as it takes to do whatever it takes to achieve my goals and get things done.

But what I have found again is that I have this huge long list of things to do in Asana. 

Asana is the tool that I use for project management at my business. I and my team also used it across the different business that we are working on.

And I found that what I was doing is I was waking up in the morning and looking at my list knowing that there’s a lot of important things that I need to get done.

The list was so long and covered so much ground. Again, I would just get scrambled and I would sit there and spend way too much time on things that didn’t really matter. 

I spend time on things that were not as important as the handful of must-do things that are on my list.

The reality is if you’re spending any time on things that are not must do and they are taking away from those must-do things, then that’s costing you.

It’s costing you in some way that you may not be aware of. You may not have a system for handling.

And that’s the situation that I was in. So what I have started doing is I have started going old school.

I’ve started extracting myself from the digital tools like Asana where it’s a project management system that is fantastic in so many ways.

You can put so many different things on there and communicate with your team and all that good stuff. But that is administrative work is not my most valuable work.

My most valuable work is the handful of critical activities are going to drive my key metrics at my business or my personal life, revenue, profitability, things associated with my health.

So I’ve gone old school. I have started going back to good ol’ journals.

Doing things old school

I actually have two journals that I use every single day. One of them is the ‘Best Self Journal’, which I love.

It’s got a structure in it that I think is great for entrepreneurs. It has these two pages wherein you out what you are going to work on every day. It gives you an opportunity to say what you are grateful for and to talk about your goals for the month of the quarter.

Then you can talk about today’s targets, the things that you’re going to work on today. 

And what I want to share with you is that in today’s targets in the journal, there are only three things.

It’s only three things.

Do three things a day

Now, I don’t know if three is a magic number. For others, it is another number for some they might have a critical thing going on so they can just focus on one thing all day long.

And I think that is fine, but for me, it forces me to take out a big list of things.

A real clear sense of what are my must do as if I could only put three on the page today that are absolute must-dos if I were to go through and evaluate all of the things that I have going on, what are the three most important things.

And those are the only ones that end up on my list in the morning, the three most important things.

Now, what goes along with just the kind of logistical change or writing three things in a notebook is a major, major psychological change. Which I think is the real benefit of doing this is that my mindset is focused towards these three must-dos.

I take the approach of I’m not going to bed until these three things are done because they are must-dos. 

I used to have a list of 10-12 or 15 things. My approach was I’m going to move as many of those forward as far as I can and as fast as I can. I have the desire and ability to work and I will work like crazy!

But the problem is on that list of 12, nine of them are not as important as the other three.

That’s just reality.

If I use the discipline of careful evaluation, surely there will be the top three that are important.

So any time I’m spending on those nine is taking away from the three.

Change of mindset

Now, my mindset is I’m getting these done no matter what and that’s a commitment to myself. 

I want to make sure that my mindset is, “I’m getting these done no matter what and that’s a commitment to myself.”

I was not making that when I had that big long list of 12 and what that’s doing is that’s enforcing to myself that my word in my word.

If I say I’m going to get these things done, I will make sure that I get it done.

And I think that the reinforcement every day is so valuable for all of use to have that psychological boost of every single day teaching myself, “Hey, my word is my word.”

I said I was going to get these things done and I am going to get them done. I was missing that when I had a dozen things on my lists. The reality is maybe nothing actually got done when I had a list of 12.

I moved all kinds of things forward but it’s kind of like I was kicking the can down the road. Versus this approach of getting three things done and I’m committed to that every single day.

That psychological reinforcement is so incredibly valuable.

It’s teaching you to take yourself seriously every day.

And that’s gonna have a massive impact on how you relate to other people and how you follow through on your commitments.

I really, really believe that.

Psychological reinforcement

So I think that the discipline of carefully looking at what’s on your list and knowing that not all of these things are of equal value is very important.

“What are the things that I’m absolutely committed to doing today that are going to be needle movers and then I’m not going to bed unless they get done?”

Take those out.

My belief is that having a journal like this or running down, getting out of the digital tools where new information is so easy to come by. It comes out all the time to distract me so by having this journal I get and stay focused.

So I hope that this process certainly of getting really clear on what your must-dos are. The deck for the day, whether that’s one, two, three or four.

I also think that getting out of the digital world and going old school, getting a good old pen and paper and write them down and then shut out the distractions until you’ve got those three things done.

If you do that, you can get out of that overwhelming swirl of a long list. I think that you are going to get a lot more important things to get done.

I hope that helps you and that you are going to have a more productive year because of it. 

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Mike Cooch
Mike Cooch

LVRG CEO Mike Cooch is a serial entrepreneur who generates 6-7 big ideas before breakfast (conservative estimate) each day.

Mike has a Texas-sized passion for sales & marketing, business development, technology, and entrepreneurship.

He has founded successful businesses in technology services, agency services, publishing, and ecommerce (and flopped on a variety of attempts as well…keepin’ it real!).

His businesses have made the INC 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America three times, and have been recognized as a 'Best Place to Work' in their respective cities.

He has an MBA from Babson College, the #1 ranked entrepreneurship program in the world by US News 24 years running, where he has been a regular guest lecturer on 'Managing a Growing Business'.

He has three children, is an avid skier, hiker and traveler, and is loving his adopted hometown of San Diego.