Managing your goals and to do lists is something that we have struggled with in the past. In fact I think this is something that a lot of people struggle with. It's the concept of becoming goal oriented instead of focusing on a to do list.
If you are an entrepreneur and own your own business then you know that there is always so much to do and an endless list of things to build or put into place (especially if you're a creative entrepreneur). Most people get caught (as we did) creating an endless stream of notes or to do lists for everything that they feel NEEDS to be done.
It usually looks something like your phone being filled with notes that you can't remember why you wrote and your computer desk and office space being filled with colourful piles of sticky notes about things you want to get done or need to remember. Maybe it even spills over into your kitchen and entryway. This was our life - one giant jumble of reminders! Not to mention that this was exactly how our brains felt too. We began to see a familiar pattern repeating itself over and over where our to do lists and notes and stickies (that never added any value to our end goals) just kept growing and collecting on our desk without the majority of tasks ever getting done.
They just kept growing. Even if we cleaned our desk they seemed to just magically appear the next month (or day!) with alarming regularity. What we wrote down last month, last year, or even last week just kept staring us in the face like a dirty pile of laundry. I'm sure you've experienced the frustration of knocking off a task or two on your list only to add on 5 more before the end of the day. The truth is a do to list never ends.
If you step back and become truly honest with yourself, you will see that the feeling of being busy is giving us a false sense of accomplishment. But this busyness really adds no value to your business if you are not moving toward your end goals. There are really only a few things in life that add deep value to our lives. And when we start to live and work out of purpose we will see that we can cut out a lot of fluff.
So how do we do that?
We eliminated all our lists and the endless amounts of tasks that they represented. We trashed them all and cleared everything out of our office and off our desk. This can seem scary at first, but if you are truly honest with yourself you will see that the endless list of tasks really adds no value to your immediate future. Plus the side benefit is a clear workspace that is stress-free and actually inspires more productivity and creativity.
Once we got rid of the clutter, we knew that we needed to change how we think and add a couple of filters to keep the cycle from repeating itself. So we decided to not only post our vision and goals on the wall of our office but to commit to only doing a task if it added value to our end goal, not just because it seemed like a good idea.
We’ve started asking ourselves these 2 questions to keep on track.
- Is this task directly related to our end goal? Does it directly contribute to the mile markers we’ve set for this month?
- Does this task create income for our business in either the short or long term? Creative entrepreneurs can SO easily get caught up in perfecting every tiny little visual detail and constantly redoing and improving tiny details that don’t actually bring in more business. Let it go. Keep your focus on building relationships and giving your clients an amazing experience and limit your visual tweaks to a set time period every 3-6 months so it doesn't consume you.
A third practice that we also put in place was to look over our tasks for the day every morning and eliminate what was no longer relevant.
Doing this has eliminated our tendency to write endless lists and it has helped us to let our GOALS dictate what we do in our business daily. And we've seen incredibly results from it. For one thing, when we actively do this we find that our satisfaction level at the end of the day is SO much higher. We no longer feel defeated by an ever growing list of things that need to get done. We can track our progress toward our monthly goals and actually see measurable progress.
By keeping your goals in front of you and only creating a task list of what is truly necessary to accomplish your end goal you will see your productivity increase and your stress level decrease. Plus it keeps your mind free of useless tasks that really do nothing to move your business forward (which gives you so much more mental freedom to dream and direct your business instead of letting your business run you!).
So if your to do list in not filled with tasks that are directly related to your goals then trash that list right now. Do it!
P.S I recently just delete over 60 notes on my phone without even looking at them! They added no value and I wrote them months ago.
P.P.S. Comment below and let us know what you do to keep yourself focused!