Hi folks, Mike Cooch back again to give you some advice.
If you’re an entrepreneur who is overwhelmed every day by that massive to-do list that you have, then this is a really, really important tip that can help you a lot.
I am an entrepreneur who’s got a lot of different projects and multiple businesses. I’ve got three kids, I’ve got a personal life, I’ve got all these good stuff I’m trying to do.
Oftentimes, I am stuck on staring at what seems like an endless list of to-do’s and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s easy to get scrambled up and spend way too much time trying to process that list and trying to determine what I should be spending my time on.
And then, the worst thing is that I will end up spending time moving things forward that are not necessarily important or really need to get done now.
Not getting things done
If you’re an entrepreneur, you have probably experienced the same feeling and you know that it’s costing you. Maybe you don’t know what to do about it too. I’m going to share with you a tip that I’ve incorporated into my personal goal-setting and personal time management process.
It made 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. I have a lot of motivation. I’m willing to work as long as it takes and 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 across my different businesses, things that I work on, personal stuff and my team.
That list can be forever long and what I was doing was waking up in the morning and looking at my list knowing that there’s a lot of important things that I needed to get done.
The list was so long and covered so much ground that I will spend way too much time on things that didn’t really matter. Things that were not as important as the handful of must-do things that are on my list.
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 and you may not have a system for handling.
What I did to break the cycle
I have started doing old school. I’ve started extracting myself from the digital tools, like Asana – which is, by the way, a very fantastic tool. You can put so many different things on there and communicate with your team and all that good stuff, but that administrative work is not my most valuable work.
My most valuable work is the handful of critical activities that are going to drive my key metrics at my business, my personal life, revenue, profitability, and things associated with my health.
And so I’ve gone old school, I’ve started going back to using good old journals. I actually have two journals that I use every single day.
One of them is this best self-journal, which I love.
It’s got a structure in it that I think is great for entrepreneurs. It’s just got these two pages that you’re working out of every day. It gives you an opportunity to say what you’re grateful for, talk about your goals for the month or of the quarter, today’s targets, and the things or steps that you’re going to work on today.
What I want to share with you is that in today’s targets, in this journal, it’s only three things. Now, I don’t know if three is a magic number, but for me, it forces me to take out of that big list of things.
A real clear sense of what are my must do’s, if I could only put three on the page today that are absolute must do’s, if I were to go through and evaluate all of the things that I have going on, what are the three most important things that I need to do today?
And those three things are the only ones on my list in the morning.
The Big Change
Now, what goes along with writing three things in a notebook is a major psychological change. The real benefit of writing three things is having a mindset that those three are the must-dos.
My approach is that I am not going to bed until those three things are done. Compared to what I used to do which is a list of 10, 12, 15 things with an approach that I was going to move as many of those forward as far as I can and as fast as I can because I do have the desire and ability to work.
But the problem is, on that list of 12, nine of them are not as important as those three.
That’s just reality.
If I use the discipline of careful evaluation, nine of those are not as important as the three. So all the time that I’m spending on those nine is taking away the time from the three.
My mindset is I’m getting these done no matter what and that’s a commitment to myself that I wasn’t making when I had that big long list of 12.
What I’m doing is reinforcing to myself that my word is my word. If I say I’m going to get these things done, I’m getting these things done, and I think that that reinforcement every day is so valuable for all of us to have.
That is a 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 was going to get them done.”
I was missing that when I had the big list of 12 because the reality is maybe nothing actually got done when I had a big list of 12. “I moved all kinds of things forward”, but it’s kind of one goes kicking the can down the road right? Versus “I’m getting three things done and I’m committed to that every single day.”
Psychological reinforcement is incredibly valuable. It’s teaching you to take yourself seriously every day to take your word seriously every day. That’s got to have a massive impact on how you relate to other people, how you relate to yourself, and how you follow through on your commitments.
I really believe in the discipline of carefully looking out what’s on your list and say, “Not all of these things have equal value. Not all of these things have equal importance. What are the things that I’m absolutely committed to doing today that are going to be needle movers? I’m not going to bed unless they get done.”
Food for thought
My belief is that having a journal or writing things down, gets you more focused. Digital tools where information is so easy to get become an all the time distraction.
I hope that this process of getting really clear on your must-dos will help you in having more productive days. Just get a good old pen and paper, write your three things and then shut out the distractions until you’ve got those things done.
If you do that, you can get out of that overwhelming swirl that we often get into when we see that huge long list. I think and know that you’re going to get a lot more of the important things done.
Here is to hoping that this helps you. I hope that you’re going to have a more productive year because of that.