Why can’t you ever get through a To Do List? I was working with a couple of new managers today and we were talking about daily productivity. A young leader stated something like this, “How do you get done everything that you want to each day? How do you get through it all? I start the day with a huge to-do list, and end the day not having done any of it! What’s the deal?”
These questions don’t deserve quick-fix answers. Too many times people reply with “Try Harder”s and “Prioritize Better”s. That isn’t what I find successful. My question is why did you give power and weight to those tasks or items? What made those to-do’s so special in the first place? Just because something makes it on a To Do List does not mean it deserves to be your number one priority.
Brain Dump or To Do List?
See too many of us use To Do Lists as brain dumps, where you write down everything that comes to mind simply to empty your thoughts and clear your head. This is a brain dump and is a valuable step in its own right. The honest truth is that most of what comes out of brain dumps are just noise and distractions. Get it out of the way, and you can focus on identifying your true priorities.
Find the One Thing
Once your head is clear and brain dump complete, you now can seek out your one thing. Somewhere on your list is one thing that when you prioritize and complete, makes many other tasks or priorities easier or irrelevant. Find the one thing, and work at it until it is done. Then you can find the next one thing.
This or That
To identify which priority or task is most important, often you must take two at a time and think “if only one can be done, will it be this or that?”. Go down your list, which task will add the most value? Mahatma Gandhi is known to have said, “Actions Express Priorities“. What will your number one task say about yours? Do not yield control over your day to a simple list.
Don’t just stop at a To Do list, but make a To Be Successful list. How you use your time should be focused on only what can create the most value for yourself, your business, and others. Stay committed to your success and do not allow tasks with no value to control your time.
As I explained these points to my young and eager managers, they set out to find their one thing. No more will they allow brain dumps to turn into To Do lists that will control their days, but they will seek to find what tasks need their attention because they offer the most value. If they stick to this strategy, your maximum achievement will follow. If you commit to finding your one thing and focus on it until it is done, you too will see success. Nix the limits that brain dumps and simple to do lists bear and achieve greatness today.
Have you had success in identifying and pursuing your one thing? Share your results and questions below. Let us add value together.