A Chinese proverb states that the weakest ink is better than the strongest memory. This is certainly true because, unless you write things down, you’re likely to forget many of the great ideas that pop into your head.
Step 1: Create projects for every area of your life
You likely have several projects happening in your life at any given time. Multiple work projects, home projects, shopping lists, even going to the gym and working out is a project. Each of these should be treated as a project, with an individual task list for each project.
You should maintain these project lists in a central location in a three-ring binder, in a program like Evernote or individual folders in a filing cabinet. For myself, I am a bit old fashioned and use excel for my list.
Step 2: Break large tasks into bite-sized mini-tasks
You procrastinate for many reasons. Sometimes it’s laziness, but many times procrastination is a result of not clearly defining a set of steps. This often happens when a project is so big that you simply don’t know where to start.
To get past this, the best course of action is to jot down every single task that needs to be done for every project.
These individual tasks should be small enough that they can be done in a single sitting so that, when you look at your project list, it’s not overwhelming to think of everything you have to complete.
The key is to create a list of bigger goals which focus on the important small tasks to meet your goal.
Step 3: Show only certain tasks
To combat overwhelm, you can take a project list full of actions and use filters to show only the tasks you need to complete on a specific day.
For instance, before starting your day, Mark a few key tasks as high priority and then filter your list to only show the tasks that you have marked as high priority. That way, you focus on only the most important items without being distracted and getting overwhelmed by seeing that large list. Print out your high priority list the night before and place it in the three-ring binder.
Step 4: Set Deadlines but don’t give yourself too much time
Deadlines create a sense of urgency. Even if there isn’t an actual deadline for a task, give it a due date so you’ll have a sense or urgency for completing the task
Step 5: Evaluate your project list
As an entrepreneur, you have random moments of inspiration. Some of these ideas often turn into projects. The problem? When you keep adding projects to your list without closing previous ones, you’ll end up with a very long list of things to do.
You’ll also find that some projects keep getting pushed to the bottom of the list. To keep your project list fresh, sim through it on occasion.
When you notice that certain projects have been on the list for a very long time, evaluate whether or not you want to keep focusing on them. Just because you wanted to do something at one time doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you to do now.
On the other hand, if fear, laziness or insecurity is keeping you from tackling a project, it may be good to move it to the top of your list.
Step 6: Create checklists for routine activities
It may seem silly to create a checklist for tasks you do on a routine basis, but having a checklist forces you to take action, especially if the specific tasks are easy to complete. Also, a checklist keeps you from forgetting to do an important step that may fall through the cracks if you don’t write it down.
Action 1: Set up a system for your projects. This will be a place to keep track of all of the projects you’re working on.
Action 2: Jot down a list of potential projects for different areas of your life. This list should include items from your business and your personal life.
Action 3: Take each of the projects and break them into smaller individual tasks. Create checklists for the tasks that you do on a regular basis.
Action 4: At the end of your workday plan out the most important tasks that you need to complete tomorrow. Then start the day by focusing on these activities.