1. Begin with the end in mind
Remember, that factory can be on autopilot with its production because of the clear-cut vision of where the company is going. Know the direction you want to head in, and keep it clear in your mind.
That vision serves as a filter. It will help you to prioritize (or eliminate) the work that doesn’t need to be done today, this week, or maybe ever.
Why waste your time?
2. Be intentional
This is another concept that is widely misunderstood, so read it closely.
There are one, maybe two, possibly three things you need to do today that matter more than anything else. The other tasks may benefit you in some way, but they aren’t necessary for you to be successful. Understand this, honor it, and block out time in your schedule every day to get what matters the most done.
It doesn’t matter what you are striving to achieve, or if it’s in business, sport or another area of life. The level of success you’ve attained does not matter either.
Think of your 1-3 action items as the “meat and potatoes” of your efforts. Everything else is either a garnish or dessert.
3. Set up dominoes — high leverage action items go first
When you buy into tip #2, you start thinking three-dimensionally. One thing becomes more or less important than another, which allows you to see something kind of beautiful: there’s usually a way to kill two birds with one stone.
Here’s a personal example. As a writer, I make it my duty to wake up at 5:30am each morning and write for two hours, or 2,000 words, whichever comes first. This is my one task for each day.
Now think about the other things I need to do to be a successful writer. Two things that immediately come to mind are making money and finding ways to get exposure on other platforms.
Well, every morning I create 2,000 pieces of evidence that set me up to do both of those things. When I send samples of my work out, they were usually written that day. And believe it or not, I’ve never gotten paid for not writing a piece.
Creating a habit of my writing sets me up to knock down other dominoes with my work. Because I’ve made a point of always doing the most important thing, I’m able to repurpose that effort to flourish in other ways. And you can do it, too.
But if you must keep to-do lists…
If you’re still not sold on the idea of trashing a to-do list, here’s my final suggestion:
Don’t use to-do lists for the work that will determine if you achieve your goals. Save them for Saturdays when there is work to be done around the house or when you are planning for a trip.
Spend the majority of your time focusing on getting what matters most done. Be efficient, but more importantly, be effective.