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5 Practical Tips to Manage your To-Do List and All Those Brilliant Ideas...

performance strategies Apr 24, 2023

If you're like most solopreneurs, you have a to-do list longer than you can face and more ideas flowing through your mind than you know what to do with.

I know I do.

I used to find both SO frustrating - because no matter how "productive" I was, I could never get "on top of" my to-do list and could never execute all my ideas.

And because I was frustrated at what I WASN'T getting done, I never really acknowledged what WAS happening.

Sound familiar?

On the surface, it is such a simple thing, but to actually put this into practice in your life... well, takes practice!

So if week on week you find yourself facing a never-ending list and feeling like you're not getting all your amazing ideas out into the world, then here are some of my 5 top practical "tips" for turning that around in a way that can make it feel amazing instead of frustrating.

1.  Create a "Results" list rather than a "to-do" list.

What are the results you want to achieve today? this week?  What "outcomes" would make you feel like you had achieved something or moved a significant project forward?  Create your task list by stating the results you want to achieve rather than the tasks you need to do.  You can break down the results into smaller tasks if necessary, but even for those smaller tasks, make them results-orientated.  So instead of saying, "content creation" you can say "write and publish1 Instagram post".  Get specific so your brain knows exactly what you need to do and when the outcome will be achieved.

2.  Prioritise each Result.

Order your list in order of priority, from highest to lowest.  Watch out for the natural tendency here to prioritise either items that feel "urgent" or "small" but whose actual IMPACT is minimal. 

Our brains like to go for these easy kills because we get a massive dopamine chemical reward hit when we tick these items off our list. 

But what could you achieve if you actually prioritised the highest impact-generating results first?  These are likely to be the ones your brain doesn't want to do...the ones that feel challenging. 

Think about the intrinsic (and potentially external) rewards that will be available to you by creating these high-impact results first!  

3. Allocate TIME to each Result.

This requires that you make some decisions ahead of time about how long you will need to generate the result you have tasks yourself with creating.  If you find yourself getting stuck, just make a best-guess estimate based on how much time you think it will take you and how much time you have available, and then see if you can stick to the time you allocated. 

What is often surprising to most of us is that things take as long as we give them.  So if you decide a result is going to take 1 hour, it generally will.  But you could oftentimes allocate that same result 30 minutes and somehow your brain will get to work to get it done in that time. 

So the other way to think about it is, how long do you WANT this result to take you?

4.  Create a separate, ongoing "IDEAS" list.

I tend to use Google Docs for this but you can use the Notes app on your phone or any other app you're already using and find easy to jot stuff down on. 

Create 1 document that contains ALL your great ideas. 

Think of it like a safe deposit box for your brain... you get to record all your amazing ideas as they happen in there so that you can always return to that list and decide to execute one.  But in the meantime, they are out of your head in a safe space which will allow you to stay focused on the idea you are currently executing. 

This has been a game-changer for many of my clients, helping them stay focused on their current priorities whilst still allowing their brains to be creative and generate brilliant ideas.

5. Keep a go-to list of "rewards".

Most of us suffer from a lack of time. 

We want more of it. 

But for what? 

This is the question that stumps a lot of people. 

If you had 2 extra hours in each day, do you know what you would do with it? 

What, beyond "work" would you WANT to do with your time? 

It could be going for a walk, having coffee with friends, reading a book, spending time with your kids, cooking a nice meal, whatever - it doesn't matter what it is, what matters is that it is something you WANT to do that you perhaps aren't doing enough of right now.  

Be onto your own brain!

When you use the combination of these 5 practical tips not only will you find it far easier to focus on the activities that will generate the most impactful results in the time that you decide, you'll also create space for your brain to acknowledge what you are achieving and have more time to do more of what you love doing. 

There really are no downsides to trying this out, except, well, your brain might naturally offer some resistance to trying it out because that's just what our brains do.  We are programmed to stay comfortable and keep repeating what we are doing, even if it is inefficient or not producing the results we want in our life. 

SO knowing that, what are YOU going to choose to do?

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