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How To Execute Your To-Do List MUCH Faster

Last Updated on June 1, 2016  

List

 

Sometimes, to-do lists freakin’ suck.

They seem awesome going in, but seem more like a source of disappointment on the way out. For some, this gets so bad they stop making to-do lists altogether. I guess they figure the no-goals “zen” approach works for them.

Thing is, its not usually the fact that the list was bad. Usually, it is because the approach was wrong.

Here’s something that I’ve found works quite well for me to get my to-do lists done much faster…

It comes down to the simple act of separating decision-making from execution.

See, like all things, getting things done is a SYSTEM. It is like an assembly line. Assembly lines work well when all people who are working the line know their exact job and simply do it.

In our businesses, it is often the case where WE are wearing the “hats” of every single person of our own assembly line. In other words, we’re the typical solo business owner and we’re doing most things ourselves. That’s perfectly fine (although you do want to eventually plan your way out of it)… but where it FAILS is when you DON’T know your exact job.

The system breaks down when you don’t know what to do, or which direction to go. There are decisions that are unmade. There are things you don’t know. So, what happens is you get to that point in your to-do list and the entire things grinds to a halt.

It is just like a computer program which gets stuck in an endless loop, or is stuck waiting for input from the user. In either case, output will stop and the computer hangs up.

So, how do you solve this when it comes to your to-do list?

You have to have TWO different “modes” when it comes to planning:

  1. Planning out the actual things you’re going to do.
  2. Making any decisions and gathering any information needed to perform each task.

#1 is a “worker bee” kind of thing, while #2 is more of an executive support role. They BOTH need to be happening, and they need to occur separately.

As a simple example, let’s say your to-do list had an item on it: “Write a new blog post for the blog.”

OK, great. So, you know you’re going to write a post.

Now, what piece of information do you need to get that done? You need to know WHAT you’re going to write! You need a topic!

If you reach that point on your list and you haven’t decided yet, then the progression grinds to a halt while you sit there and figure-figure on potential topic ideas. Or, you give up and put it off and go search for easier things to do (hello Twitter!)

So, when you create your to-do list, you need to ask yourself two questions about each thing:

  1. Are there any decisions I need to make first?
  2. Is there any information I need before I can proceed?

And, your work will proceed MUCH faster if you handle those two things first, before you even start your list.

All of us work much more efficiently when we know EXACTLY what needs to get produced and we know how to produce it. When those things aren’t known, we end up doing what humans do: decide we don’t want to confront it and go do something else.

So, when you make your next to-do list (perhaps for tomorrow?), ensure that you do the two points above as part of creating that list. Then, when you get up the next day to do it, it’ll be smooth sailing. 🙂

Did you find this helpful?

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  • I did find this useful info and definately agree that we can easily be distracted if we don’t have a plan – so many distractions: pinterest, tumblr etc. My question re the academy is “can you help me if I have long standing websites and blogs that need tweaking rather than starting from scratch?: Thanks David.

    Reply

    • David Risley says:

      Surely. As you go through training inside the Academy, you just apply it to an existing site rather than a new one.

      Reply

  • David Fosrer says:

    GREAT article Dave. I live off of to-do lists. And I try to be as detailed as possible, but it is hard sometimes!

    Reply

    • Frank Angelone says:

      I actually do something different when it comes to to-do lists. Each year, I like to write out what things I’d like to accomplish for the upcoming year. I actually recently just referenced that list for the first time. I’ve accomplished things I’ve set out to do thus far and am progressing towards more…however, the majority of the items on my list that I had originally had in mind, I completely went in a new direction with. That’s a good thing…at least I think so because I’m innovating ideas for my brand. I don’t look to often at that list, but still plan some things I’d like to do in my head, but stay focused on core essential items. I will probably look at that list I wrote back in the beginning of the year again, but I like keeping it at a minimum to see how I’ve grown my ideas out rather than pressuring myself into doing too many things at once, getting distracted and overwhelmed by them, and ultimately not accomplishing anything. I like when I create new ideas in my head on the go and implement immediately. I guess you can say my to-do task list is always evolving to adjust with the times.

      Reply

      • David Risley says:

        That’s more of a long-range planning thing. But, when it comes to actually getting your tasks done, I believe you still need to separate decision making from the execution.

        Reply

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