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How to complete your to-do list every day

Desk to write your to-do list

I exist in two very compelling worlds. 

The world of my business where I get to help people from around the world grow their businesses. 

And the world of my life, which IS my world.

I love my business…AND…I love my personal life. But if I’m being completely honest, I am drawn to spending more time on my personal things.

And I’m willing to bet you do, too.

It’s natural – especially because we work from home.

The paradox of working from home

Our homes contain all that we cherish. 

Our hopes, our loves, our things, our never-ending household to-do lists. 

I consider my home to be my sanctuary, and it is…but it is also one giant distraction for my business.

I used to start every day with a brand new to-do list that I made while sipping my morning coffee. And I almost never completed it.

I was always getting interrupted.

Got a blog post to write? Well, I’ll get to it right after I put away the dishes.

Time to reconcile my business banking? Let me just finish folding the laundry first.

Need to post to my social media accounts? Sure, just as soon as I take the dog for a walk.

And then one day I got the paradox:

As solopreuneurs, we created a business so that we could work on our own schedule from the comfort of our own home.

BUT, the reality is this:

Our home – and all of the things we need to do to keep it running – becomes the very thing that interferes with our work schedule…usually at the expense of our business.

This creates an imbalance, and makes it almost impossible to complete our business tasks on a daily basis.

The problem with your to-do list

It took me years to realize just how out of balance my home/work life was, and a couple more years to figure out a workable solution that honored both my worlds.

So I trashed my old-schooly to-do list and started over.

Traditional to-do lists simply do not work for most solopreneurs.

Think about it. When you sit down to create a to-do list what happens?

You ponder everything you need to accomplish that day and then you write them down as they come up for you, right?

Does your to-do list look like this?

  • Dentist Appointment
  • Write a TY note to Dave
  • Call Jenna at Google Ads
  • Create next batch of Instagram posts
  • Work on sales funnel
  • Finish blog post
  • Make Pinterest graphics
  • Pay bills
  • Update Plugins
  • Find a copywriter
  • Ashley’s recital
  • Call Mom
Writing desk for your to-do list

What we’ve got here is a simple list of tasks, many of which will not get done today. 

Why? 

Because it is too generic, it has no time parameters, and it does not prioritize the tasks. .

What is needed is a plan, not a list.

Introducing the to-do plan

If you are really interested in moving your business forward, making more money and wasting less time on insignificant tasks, then you need a plan.

To-do items that are attached to a plan, get done.

The difference between a to-do list and to-do plan is specificity and prioritization.

With a to-do list (like the one above), you only have a list of tasks that need to be accomplished, with no realistic plan for doing that.

A to-do plan builds off of that list and making a plan you can follow.

A to-do plan is created when:

Your to-do list is clearly broken down into specific tasks.

Taking an example from our list above, “finish the blog post” is too vague to be helpful.

To ensure the blog post will actually get finished, you need to account for  all that is left to be done. Let’s say you already have an outline, but no content. You might still need to:

• write the content
• check the keyword density for SEO
• write a meta description
• curate and upload images
• proofread and edit
• schedule for posting

When you are this specific with your to-dos, planning your time and prioritizing tasks will be that much easier.

It is assigned a time value

Until you have a time value assigned to your task, you can’t possibly know if your to-do list is doable in a day or not.

Assigning a time-value to the specific tasks on your to-do list is the driver for a more effective AND balanced schedule.

Using the same example above:

• write the content  [1.5 hours]
• check the keyword density for SEO [10 minutes]
• write a meta description [15 minutes]
• curate and upload images [20 minutes]
• proofread and edit [30 minutes]
• schedule for posting [5 minutes]

Now you know that you need nearly 3 hours to “finish the blog post.” And knowing this gets you that much closer to checking it off as complete. However, you also must schedule it into your day.

It is scheduled in your planner

The most effective component of a to-do plan that gets completed is creating blocks of time in your calendar to work on all of your tasks.

This is your commitment to yourself, your work, and your life.

When you block out a specific amount of time, you are not only more likely to complete the task, but you are also more likely to not get distracted by life.

Scheduling tasks – which demands that you make decisions about priorities – also allows you to take a more realistic view of your day and see what is out of balance.

So in our example, the “finish the blog post” task should take about 3 hours. If we block out that time in our calendar and then block out the dental appointment (1.5 hours) and the recital (2 hours), we might find that we only have 2.5 hours left in the workday.

Looking at what is left on our original to-do list, it’s not likely we can get it all done on one workday.

So we break down, assign time, and plot the tasks that we can complete, and then carry over the rest to tomorrow.

This is how to complete your to-dos every day: simply create a plan and then follow it.

How you can slay your to-dos list every week

To-do planning works whether you create a new plan every day or just one for the week.

I’ll let you in on a little secret…I do my to-do plan for the week…and it takes me less than 60 minutes.

I find that “batching” my daily to-do plan saves me a ton of time each week and gives me a much more accurate picture of what’s to come.

I take one hour every Monday and create a to-do plan for the week so that I never have to guess what I need to do next. It also allow me to easily see where I can schedule the unexpected tasks, meetings, and appointments.

I call this my Power Planning Hour.

How do you typically plan your day or week?

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