Not getting your to-do list done each day, here is why

Often I run into agents who want to talk about how they never get anything done. They think all they need is a new system or a new program to make it all better.
More often than not the problem is not with the systems, the problem is with the work they are doing.

If you find yourself failing to get things done, I’m fairly certain that one of two things is happening. Either you are trying to do to many things, or you really just don’t like what you are doing.

If it is the later, if you really don’t like what you are doing, you have two options. You need to either learn to outsource or delegate the items you don’t like to do, or just don’t do it, and find something else to do. Life is to short to spend most of your day doing something you dislike.

But what I want to focus on is the person who has to many things on their plate. The person with the to-do list with hundreds of items that grows more than it shrinks each week.

Stop, just stop

Here is a little exercise I want you to do. It is similar to the Warren Buffet way to success with a little twist of my own.

First thing I want you to do is write down a list of everything you want to accomplish. Vacation, new business, run a marathon, get a promotion, launch a project, get a certification, finish school… Whatever you can think of that you want to accomplish over the next year, two years or five years.

Now look at the list and boil down a top ten. What are the top ten things you want to accomplish on that list if you could only do ten.

Now that you selected ten write them down on a desperate sheet. Look at them, study them, pray about them, really think about them.

Now number them in an order of importance to you from 1–10. Take a night and sleep on it if you need to. Make sure you are happy with your order.

Now split the list into two. On one sheet put the top five things you want to accomplish. After that you can stop. Yup, stop there.

Now you have your priority list.

What next

Now that you have your priorities you are going to focus on them and forget everything else on you list. Yes forget them. Why?

Because that’s your problem, you are spreading yourself to thin as it is. You have to much going on. If you add them back to your to-list you are going to end up right back in the same place. Wondering why you never get anything done.

Now you need to start working on that list ever day. And only with what is on your list.

The next step

Don’t get bogged down in your long lists though. Ask yourself every morning, what are three things I want to accomplish today. What are three outcomes I want to achieve. Not necessarily three to-do items, but an outcome that you want to achieve or complete.

That is your to-do list for today. Achieve those three things, achieve them first before you do anything else. Then if you have more time move onto other tasks.

The key is though, stay on task and don’t do anything that moves you away from your top five list.

Your takeaway

If you are not happy with your productivity:
* Stop doing things you hate to do, even if that means finding a new line of work
* Write down everything you want to do and accomplish
* Pick the top five things from that list
* Eliminate everything else
* Every morning pick three outcomes you want to achieve that move you slowly towards your five
* Do those three first, before anything else
* Rinse and repeat and win!

 

Photo credit Flickr creative commons

Comments

  1. Thoughtful and practical tips Dean. Appreciate the simple steps to gain focus on the outcomes we want to achieve.

  2. Easier said than done!! Especially when you have the perfect plan for the day and you are sidetracked due to kids, phone calls that go on forever!!

    I have 5 items to complete every day – I’m lucky if 3 are done.
    One kid sick – missed bus – unexpectant vistor – I have to learn to say NO until my items are complete.

    • Dean Ouellette says:

      I agree Sheila. Easier said than done. But that is what I have had to work on. I have 5 kids too and know what you mean. The key like you said is no. When I am working on my list, my big 3, its full out until those are done. Try not to answer phone, even turn the phone to silent most days. Things can wait. Remember life before cell phones when we were out, things did wait. But I understand. Yesterday was the first day in about two months where my list did not get get done. I let other things distract me.

      The great thing about the system, every day is a new day and get to start all over again.

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