Are you a slave to the ‘to-do’ list?
There was a time when I once started my week trolling through pages of things I had to do. The reality was that when I attempted to gauge the enormity of the list, I instantly became overwhelmed. The panic would set in. I’d lose my focus because my brain had neurologically switched to a defence-based survival program.
Each time I looked at that to-do list, I became reactive and would emotionally dysregulate.
Being neuro-divergent, experiencing all the ADHD tendencies of inattention, when I look at a big ‘to-do’ list of tasks, I still unravel every time.
These days I use my ADHD as my superpower. I have a strategic plan of what I want to achieve for the year ahead. For each goal, there is a master list of all the actions that need to be checked off. It identifies major sections of work to be completed.
My planning these days is more than just a list of words — it’s a fluid, living thing that constantly flows.
My planning now includes tools like mind maps — so I can see how one task leads to another. I can see the flow of things. This also enables me to look down upon my outstanding work and assess where I can batch work items together.
The beauty of the bulk of my work these days is not many tasks are new.
As an ex-detective and auditor, I jump with glee. The beauty of repetition means I’m then in a space to simply refine the productivity of tasks.
When you overcome the hurdle of learning what has to be done, it feels great to accomplish. Then when get the chance to repeat the process, the task can feel less hard and overwhelming. This is because you’re becoming familiar.
Here is the gift of repetition, you get to create and implement the mindset of “rinse and repeat”. Your confidence begins to grow and your productivity starts to naturally.
What’s more important, you are creating more mental energy to consider what’s next on the list to be accomplished, or creating space inside your head to become creative for something new.
When you can see the big picture of the strategic plan, and how all the little tasks and actions feed into it, you are creating a new scope of work. You can more readily identify exactly what has to be done and allocate a reasonable amount of time to complete each task.
Essentially, I’ve come to learn to love the guidance provided by a master to-do list, because now I chunk it all down in a way that my brain can process. I also understand the price my nervous system pays when I don’t walk away from being overwhelmed by that first glance of the to-do list!
Here are my suggestions to maximize your productivity and smash the to-do list
1. Get some free guidance
If you’re in school, you’re likely to be guided by teachers who provide you with a rubric of what is required to achieve the bare minimum or maximum grade. If you’re a solopreneur, the guidance of where to start and what to do is blurred.
There is frankly a shit tonne of information online and via social media outlets. That in itself is overwhelming. Where do I start?
Hopefully, your qualification course has set you up with the basic foundational elements. Here’s where I found some free golden nuggets:
- Private Facebook groups — be wary of the hard sell tactics. A good facilitator will drive topic-based dialogue within a peer support group, as well as allow frequent sharing of your business links. This promotes both goodwill and fabulous networking opportunities.
- Local face-to-face practitioner network gatherings
- YouTube instructional videos — it’s not hard to find someone with a bit more experience or knowledge than you, sharing tidbits for free in a video.
- Podcasts — find people you resonate with.
2. Ensure you’ve got a business buddy
This sounds a little weird, but you do need someone to bounce ideas off. You need someone to vent to when the tech doesn’t work. You need someone who understands the highs and lows you experience.
You need someone who isn’t family or an existing friend, who understands the mental-ness of running a business to be there to high-five you or pick you up from the corner and tell you to stop sucking on your thumb!
Get yourself a workwife who can support your mindset with a reality check-in. This person doesn’t need to be female, they just need to be prepared to collaborate and support when required.
A business buddy can be someone who sits beside you and steps you through a process that has caused you overwhelmed. Better still do it online and record the session so you have your own instructions for repeating the process.
3. Work with a paid coach
I’ve been in business for twenty years, and I’ve got another twenty years of corporate experience. Yes, there were times when the two overlapped. So I understand the juggle of migrating out into the big world on your own.
I’m someone who runs paid coaching. I’ll also be the first to put up my hand to admit I continue to invest in myself and receive coaching as well. In my humble opinion, this is the only way we stretch ourselves into the discomfort of learning new things.
A good coach will do two things — provide valuable knowledge and observe whilst you digest that information. A good coach will listen to you wail when your triggers are activated, and then support you to work through them.
Ideally, your chosen coach will provide you with a formula of tasks to ‘do the work’ and techniques and tools to manage your stress trigger response as you accomplish the tasks.
4. Eat with frogs
Mark Twain once said, “If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that it is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”
Interesting quote right?
It got me thinking about what is the worst thing I have to do in my business that I often avoid or procrastinate on. This concept also reminded me that I can achieve high vibe manifestation and intentional energy first thing in the morning, so it makes sense to smash out the most loathsome job first. Then it’s smooth sailing after that dreaded task is done.
Best bit? You don’t have to eat a real frog to be successful!
In reality, your “frog” is your biggest, most important task. It is the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.
So, “eat that frog,” is another way of saying that if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first. Discipline yourself to begin immediately and then to persist until the task is complete before you go on to something else.
You can take this frog-eating concept further by co-collaborating with a like-minded colleague. Sit side by side, and knuckle in together with those challenging jobs!
5. Master One Thing At A Time
It’s so easy to become caught in the ‘have-to’ trap. Marketing on multiple social media platforms is a classic example. The key to progressing and ultimate success, especially as an entrepreneur, is to nail the process of a single task at a time.
When you drag your focus over multiple tasks, your focus becomes diluted. This causes a dip in your productivity.
There is no shortage of methods to get all of the jobs done for your life. The trick with any of them is don’t be afraid to tackle the hard things first.
The best advice I can share from personal experience is to give a technique or method at least three attempts. Don’t spend hours failing, take regular breaks to minimize the amount of frustration energy that could build. Be sure to reach out and seek support or help to overcome the challenge.
Karen Humphries is a Kinesiology Practitioner, Health & Business Coach, LEAP & NES Practitioner, Intuitive Meditation Facilitator, and published author. She is a self-confessed laughaholic. She loves being of service to the world with her humorous and positive approach to life, encouraging people to ‘choose to change and bloom from within.’