Do you know what not to-do when it comes to your to-do’s?
Last week I spent time with some amazing entrepreneurs during a virtual retreat. We discussed productivity with family around. And there was a bit of a discussion around permission of what NOT to do.
As a mom entrepreneur juggling all kinds of balls, it is SO important to distinguish between what is a priority and what is not. And also that you permit yourself to let some things go. To either delete them completely. Or delegate them to someone else. Or delay them until you have time or actually need to complete them.
By ranking the items on your to-do list, you stop giving equal weight to tasks that aren’t truly important. And you will find yourself feeling less overwhelmed or pulled to do so much.
The Greeting Card Test
Back in my professional organizing days, clients would often struggle to determine the items that were truly meaningful, had an impact, or were worth keeping. I developed what I called the “Greeting Card Test”.
Say you have a stack of greeting cards from your child’s first birthday party. Some of the cards contain beautifully written, personal messages from Great Grandma Annette. And others simply say “Bob and Jane”. And you can’t even remember who Bob and Jane are. By keeping all the cards in the stack, you diminish the value of the truly special ones. If you had to rank that cards on a scale of 1-10, you would probably rank Great Grandmas Annette’s card a “10”. And random Bob and Jane’s card a “1”. Yet, by keeping all those cards without discarding the ones that aren’t truly important, you devalue all the cards. Everything is of equal importance. And if everything is a 10, nothing is a 10. The same applies to the tasks on your to-do list.
Can you evaluate the tasks on your to-do list? Learn to separate what is necessary and important from what can wait or go away? Then you will effectively manage your time and use it more productively
Up until now, you might have just looked at your to-do list tasks with equal weight. Or you do the things you like to do first to start crossing items off. You know, just to complete something.
But you also may feel unproductive, unsuccessful, or unprofitable. The tasks you choose to spend your time on could be responsible. You are working. And working hard. You actually work a lot. But are you working on the right things?
By developing skills to evaluate and prioritize your tasks, you’ll develop confidence in what projects need your immediate attention. And you’ll develop the skill to ask for help for tasks that others can complete for you.
When you start to write an effective to-do list, your personal list may start to shrink while actually accomplishing more. Who wouldn’t prefer 7 focused, productive tasks in day to 14 with some spilling over into the next day because you don’t have the stamina to get it all done.
Learning to delegate tasks that don’t need your expertise helps you finish your work day on time. It helps you share the responsibilities at home and feel less resentment over the perception you need to do it all. And when you know you’ve focused on the urgent and important rather than what not to do, you can confidently close up shop at the end of the day. You can show up present for your family knowing you’ve completed the tasks that will have a positive effect on your business or home life. Instead of saying “just one more thing” or letting your mind wander during family time because you’re didn’t get something done.
How to Decide What Not To Do
But where do you even start evaluating all the things that need done to determine where it fits?
Let’s start with a quick overview of the 4 D’s of Time Management. When it comes to tasks you should Do It, Delegate It, Defer or Delay It, or Delete or Drop It. But how do you decide what needs you to “Do It” and what fits into the other “D’s” aka what NOT to do. I love to run tasks through my TRIM Your To-Do List Flowchart which asks
- Is it time-sensitive or has an approaching due date coming soon?
- Is it required, meaning it is necessary for your work or home life or there will be a consequence?
- Will it make an impact positively or negatively on your work, home, family, or health?
- Is it money related? As in it will help you make money or will affect your financial health if it’s not completed?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions and it requires your specific expertise to finish, it falls into the “Do It” category.
For instance, writing a guest blog post that is due on Friday is time-sensitive, require, will make a positive impact on your business, and requires your specific expertise.
If you answered “yes” but someone else could help you out, it falls into Delegate It. For instance, you need to pay your household bills which qualify as time-sensitive, required, and money-related. BUT your spouse is perfectly capable of signing into the accounts to make sure they get paid. You’ve just never asked for help.
Or maybe you’ve been working on revamping your website but it isn’t really necessary. There isn’t a deadline. You are not required to do it. Your current website is converting you just don’t like the way it looks. And there wouldn’t be an immediate impact to your financial health if you kept working on it (except maybe it was taking you away from actual money making tasks). This would be an example of a task you would Delay or Defer until it became necessary or you found yourself with time to spare. Which I don’t know about you, but if I found myself with extra time, I don’t know that I’d want to spend it revamping my website.
And finally, if you answered no to all these questions…the task is not time sensitive, required, positively or negatively impact your life, and not money related…you need to Delete or Drop it. Your time is just too precious to waste. End of story.
I promise, the more you practice, the easier it will get to discern those important tasks you should do from the ones you delegate, delay or delete. And to make it even easier, you receive the TRIM Your To-Do List Flowchart as part of Your Priority Recipe, my free download with all the ingredients you need to focus on the tasks that matter and let go of those that don’t so you can spend more time doing what you love with who you love. Click here to grab your FREE Priority Recipe today!