Are you feeling ready to break the cycle you’ve been living in–where you make a huge long list every day, and then you kind of check off a few things, but you end up rewriting most of the list (and then some) the very next day? And the day after that? And onward and onward?
We’ve just created a new resource for you called “Escaping the Groundhog Day To-Do List” (linked at the bottom!), and I want to explain a little more about why this can make such a huge difference for you–and help you to know exactly how you can get access.
Plus, we have our next session of Four Weeks to Finished starting September 1st–AND some brand new resources inside our STEP Mastery program I’m excited to tell you about, so please check the links at the bottom of the page and/or listen to the end to learn more!
Throughout the month of August, we’ll be publishing a whole series of short, helpful podcasts that you can listen to while you do a microburst of work. So please make sure you subscribe to LearnDoBecome Radio on your favorite podcast app, and then when you need to clean up the kitchen or dive into a closet or something for 10-15 minutes, LearnDoBecome can be your companion!
The “Regular” Way to Make a To-Do List
To create a visual understanding of the problem I want to help you solve, I wrote out a sample to-do list that represents the way I personally used to make lists–and the way most people currently make their lists (if they make one at all).
Now that I’ve learned from David Allen and his awesome book Getting Things Done®, I know that this isn’t actually a to-do list. It’s a MIND SWEEP. It’s simply a place where I emptied out all the things in my mind and put them out on paper. Doing this is actually very helpful. It gives us a way to see what’s weighing us down, worrying us, or taking up our “psychic RAM,” as David Allen puts it.
The problem with this regular way of list-making, however, is that it is nearly impossible to check off this list. Some things are routines, some are one-off tasks, some are projects, etc., and hacking at this list a little at a time is only going to lead to stress, frustration, and procrastination because it feels hard, we’re undoubtedly going to add to it, and then we end up with a really long list that never gets done and quietly says, “You aren’t progressing! You are a failure! There is so much to do, but you’ll never get it done! You might as well just give up now!”
I lived with that voice for years, and if you know what I’m talking about, you know it would feel like HEAVEN if that voice went away for good.
That’s why I’m here to help you. 🙂
How can we create a comprehensive list that gets completed EVERY DAY?
Great question! The new resource we created for you will show you the specifics, but here’s the basic idea:
We need one super simple list to work from during the day that does the following:
(1) Only includes things that HAVE to be done today. The list I showed you above is essentially a “wish list.” If you can (and do) rewrite the list day after day after day, then the things you wrote down really didn’t have to be done the first day you put them on your list. And I know you’re probably thinking, “Yes they do! Everything has to be done right now, and I’m just late on all of it!” I get it, but in order to live mentally healthy, productive lives, we’ve got to accept the fact that we are human, we live in an imperfect world full of delays and interruptions, and we can’t do everything as quickly as our minds wish we could. So for starters, the list that gets completed every day is respectful of our humanness.
(2) Acts as a companion to your calendar. The calendar holds scheduled appointments and tasks. 1pm meeting. 3pm haircut. 5:15pm grocery pickup. The to-do list holds flexible tasks that are worked into your day, around your appointments.
(3) Focuses our tasks on a small number of projects we have decided to prioritize for the month. You’ve probably heard the analogy that If we’re trying to chase 100 rabbits, we won’t catch any of them. The only time I ever actually chased a rabbit was when our pet rabbit escaped from the backyard, and even then it was tricky to catch him. If we’d had 100 of them, I’m pretty sure I would have given up. Behind the “to do list,” there needs to be a plan. Some kind of a goal. Some “end point” we’re working toward that month that prevents us from getting sidetracked on the hundreds or thousands of things we think might be good for our home, family, business, personal life, etc. I’ll show you how to make a Current Projects List inside the added resource, if you’re interested!
(4) Works alongside a separate list of routines on autopilot. Routines, projects, and tasks are all distinct components of a great Command Central. Most people mix these up like crazy, and that’s why our minds feel like a whirlwind when we look at our super long lists. Routines are like the steady drum-beat of our lives. My morning prayers, meditation, bed-making, personal study, exercise, physical preparations, home-tidying, etc. are routines on auto-pilot so that I don’t have to consult a to-do list to remember what I need/want to do. If I choose not to make my bed, that’s fine. Most routines are based on personal preference, but the key is to remove them from your “to do list” and list them/remind yourself of them in a different way so it takes the visual weight off of the things your brain sees as needing to be done that day.
(5) Works alongside a flexible weekly list that holds tasks by context (where you are when you’re getting them done). The reason our to-do lists feel “heavy” is because we weigh it down with tasks that are incredibly flexible. Some people label their lists with A-B-C, but the problem with this is that you end up with a whole lot of options that are SO EASY to procrastinate. We often spend more time rewriting those than it actually takes to get them done. Or some people call them “C-Zs,” and they end up spending all day doing them because they’re not that important, they’re easy to do, and they give us the illusion of being productive. But here’s the thing…if we have 2 “A” priorities today, 3 “B” priorities, and 5 “C” priorities, why on earth would we give ourselves the mental option of just doing the Cs and Bs and completely ignoring the A items? It’s like we’re appeasing that fearful, anxious part of ourselves and saying, “It’s okay. Don’t worry about all those important things you planned for today. They’re probably stressful. Let’s just scroll social media, let ourselves get interrupted a ton, and then earn some checkmarks on those Bs and Cs. It’ll feel way better (for a while).” Instead, we take all those B and C items, add them to our Next Actions List, and work with them during the pockets of time that come up during the week. I’ll show you how exactly to do that in the PDF.
You can absolutely create an amazing, simple, actionable to-do list that will make life feel so much easier, and we’re here to support you along the way!
Here are a few next steps, if you’re ready!
Download your free PDF called Escaping the Groundhog Day To-Do List. It’s only 3 pages long, but it will show you the “how” when it comes to implementing what we covered in today’s post/podcast. We sent it to our current newsletter recipients on August 2nd, but if you didn’t get it, click here to sign up!
Ready to become a STEPper and build your full Command Central? Our STEP Mastery members have a special bonus class this month–all about time blocking. If you join by August 23rd, you can participate in the live event! Or join by the end of August to get the recording. Recordings of special events can be purchased for $50 on their own, or you can become a STEP Mastery member and become grandfathered in to all future STEP Mastery Member events!
Four Weeks to Finished starts September 1st! Would you like to get out of the overwhelm with a solid Command Central–built in one month with lots of coaching, support, and community along the way? Our special group coaching program is only offered a few times a year, and we would love for you to sign up! Click here to get on the waitlist!