© 2008 Linda Feinholz.
You’ve got dreams and you’ve got your attention on what it takes to achieve them. You’re ready to roll up your sleeves and eager to start producing massive results.
The problem is, you’re dragging. You put in tons of hours, your desk is piled with papers, and no matter how hard you work, you’re plagued by a To-Do list a mile long and growing. You’re constantly busy yet you get to the end of each week before you get to the end of your list.
Important things fall through the cracks. In fact you’re feeling frustrated, drained and overwhelmed. And you’re doubting what you’ve actually accomplished.
I started coaching this month with two new business leaders and that’s exactly what they were facing, every day. They were wondering how they’ll ever achieve their big goals when they can’t seem to dig themselves out from under their avalanche of tasks and ‘have to get done’s’.
So I gave them a To Do list Makeover. We turned that time and energy sucking list of “To Do’s” into “Ta Da’s!” they can smile about. And you can use it too!
So what’s a Ta Da! List?
Have you ever noticed that your To Do List is a never-ending list of everything you think you should be doing?
We’re all so adept at creating lists of things that need doing. But not all items are created equal—some are simple items to get done, others take major effort. As a result your To Do list is full of busy work all mixed in with the important stuff and even the urgent and critical things your success depends on.
A Ta-Da! list is results focused. It’s a list of High Payoff tasks, that when completed have immediate impact on your results and success. Completing items on your Ta-Da! List results that in energy focuses you and each next effort on accomplishments.
A Ta Da! List is a declaration of what you are committed to getting done. And that means getting it done in the most effective way possible.
Here is a 5 step plan to tame that To Do list:
Step #1: Declare Your Top 3 Priorities.
Your Ta-Da! List needs a clear focus. Every day, start a fresh list with your 3 most important projects or priorities. Don’t let your High Payoff Activities get buried – keep everything else off this list. Clearly focus on the 3 priorities that must get done, no matter what else happens. Let this focus your actions.
Step #2: Dump The Lowest Priority Items.
If everything is equally important then nothing really is. Take a fresh, honest look at your To Do list. Now filter your list for the things that you dream of getting done ‘someday’ and write them down on a separate piece of paper – out of your sight, permanently. Ask yourself “What items on my list fall in the ‘great idea’ category but have very little payoff if I do them? What items have absolutely no consequence if I DON’T do them?” If you’re finding “shoulds” that you keep stalling on because they aren’t aligned with your top priorities, cross them off and be done with them.
Step #3: Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.
Identify anything and everything that must get done, yet could be done by someone else. That means handing it to someone and overseeing their accomplishing it so you stop being the ‘only one’ who could get it done. I teach my clients to use the “If I Ran off to Fiji Test”. If you decided to catch a plane tomorrow, and it still needed to get done, who ought to have it on their list? If you’re concerned it won’t get done to your standards, set-up a formal hand off with a ‘check in’ dates and times to review progress and provide input. But commit to letting someone else handle it all the way to completion.
Step #4: Pencil Out The Week.
Take another look through your list. If there’s anything on your list that doesn’t have to be completed today, but does need to be completed within the next 7 days, pencil it onto the appropriate days. Just knowing you’ve created a time and space for them will free you up to focus on other, more important, priorities right here and right now.
Step #5: Time Block The Rest.
All that should be left on your list are those items that (a) must be done today, (b) are linked to a top priority item and (c) must be done by you and only you. You may want to break them into 45-minute blocks of time, alternating with 15-minute breaks, so you know you’ll accomplish them and also give attention to quick fix items that crop up. Write those blocks of time in your calendar.
And anything else that crops up during your day? Take them through steps 1 through five and get your attention back on your declared focus for the day!
That’s it. 5 simple steps to create your Ta-Da! List. Watch how much more focused and productive you are.