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September
14
2016
Creative Entrepreneur

Becoming a Master at Getting Stuff Done: Top 5 Tips to Diffuse the To-Do List Overwhelm

If you suffer the plight of the never-ending to-do lists, you’re not alone! If you’re struggling with lots of ideas that are half completed, here are suggestions to help you slash your to-do list overwhelm!

There are thousands of articles written about what executives do to help them be more productive. Many of them involve waking up at 4 in the morning (and if you’re anything like me, you enjoy your sleep). There are myriad ways that make you efficient and productive, but here, we’re dispelling the myths of why you think you can’t get anything done.

Today, we’re talking about self accountability. This might be the first time in your life when you haven’t had somebody who was in charge of you. Most of our lives, we’ve had teachers, parents, leaders, professors, bosses who have told us what to do and when to complete it by. And the irony is that as entrepreneurs, we join this world because we enjoy the freedom but also find that we need the structure and the accountability of having somebody else push us in the direction of our dreams.

Here are 5 tips to get you started so you conquer your to-do list!

 1. Set deadlines that make sense.

I see creatives who set deadlines that are impossible. When you set out to do a project, consider all the other things you have going on. With your job, your parenting duties, your volunteer projects, school, household responsibilities, and other work you have to do, is it actually possible to get this extra project done in the allotted time?

Make sure to set a buffer on any deadline you give yourself. Whether it’s an extra day or an extra week, know that sometimes unforeseen things come up (or people don’t reply to emails as quickly as you hope), and you end up getting thrown off on your timeline. If you have a buffer built into your timeline, you can recover without losing your momentum!

 2. Don’t expect to get it all done at once.

This is a toughie. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. We must choose where we focus our energy wisely. It might sound cliche but where you place your intention is where you see progress. Much like multi-tasking, if you try to complete multiple projects at once, you’ll end up hurting your progress because you’ll have many incomplete projects.

Here’s a suggestion: In addition to all your regular work or life responsibilities, add one project to your plate at a time. In order to complete this, you’ll need to decide how many hours per week or month you’d like to work on it. Then, give yourself a deadline on when you’ll have the work completed.

 3. Know where your time goes.

Many of us have long lists of to-dos, you have a work-filled day and at 6pm, you look up and your list is as long as it was when you started. And your email is full. What happened?!

Typically, when this happens, you added things to your to-do list that aren’t important right now. You’re also doing things during the day that don’t help to move your business forward. Here’s what I mean: you probably didn’t need to hang out on instagram and instagram stories for a whole hour. You probably could have been writing the blog post you’ve been meaning to write instead of stalking that competitor whose shop you were side-eyeing. You probably could have been writing a section of your e-course instead of saying yes to that client who you really hate working with.

If you don’t know where your time goes, spend a few days finding out! Use a tool like Toggl to track your time and figure out what it is you’re doing. Determine then whether it’s a waste of your time or where the gaps in what you think you should be doing and what you’re actually doing are!

 4. Don’t over-commit.

I’ve had this issue myself; I tend to say yes to every fun and stimulating opportunity that comes my way. Unfortunately, when I do, I get overwhelmed, the quality of the work goes down and that hurts me in the end.

The quote goes, “saying yes means you’re saying no to something else.” It’s so true. In many cases, when we overcommit, we cut ourselves out from self care, creativity, from white space, from family time, producing quality work, enjoyment of our work and the pace of our work.

By being selective about what you say yes to, you’re also committing to a path, that is not only full of abundant opportunity, but also work that doesn’t feel like work!

 5. Reflect.

A huge part of your role as leader of your company is stepping back to see the bigger picture. If you’re a team of one, you’re probably playing the role of captain and crew. If you’re dealing with the minutia of the day-to-day, on occasion, you’ll want to set aside time to look at where you want to steer the ship. Without intentional reflection, the current (or any kind of opportunities) will dictate your future for you and when you do look up, you’ll be in a place in your business and life where you don’t want to be.
Set aside one day in a month to assess where things are going, what you want to focus on in your business.

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