One of the things I get asked by a lot by a lot of people is, ‘How do you manage to get so many things done?’ And I do. I have a lot of hobbies, I have a lot of businesses, and I get a lot done. I still enjoy my own time doing things I love doing. Sometimes I get ribbed because I run a calendar system for home and for my businesses. It took me a while to get my wife into the spirit of being more organized. It was the fact that maybe there were a couple of times when she wanted to do something and I said, ‘Is it in the calendar?’ And it wasn’t in the calendar because she didn't used to use the calendar. She used to write things on the calendar in the cupboard. But it did get to the point where my wife now uses a calendar to track all of her events, and we have a shared calendar.
Electronic to do list
With technology these days, it is so easy to be organized. Having said that, it can also be difficult to be organized because there are so many options. You look at some of the online To Do lists, there’s one I'm using at the moment that I'm loving it’s called WunderList. That’s w-u-n-d-e-r-l-i-s-t, WunderList. I’m imagining you should say that with a German accent ‘vunderlist’ or something like that. But I bought that in the Apple iMac store. It runs on my Mac and synchronizes with all my other devices. I can even send and collaborate with others. So I can send you tasks. It keeps me up to date on what’s getting done and when it’s getting done. I can categorize them, I can do all sorts of things.
Written to do list
Now even though I use WunderList, my favourite To Do list is a handwritten one. I have a handwritten one, I use yellow paper which sounds strange, but it’s the one color paper that will not get lost on my desk, it’s always easy to find. I write out a To Do list every week. So on Monday morning or sometimes Friday afternoon I will jot down all the things I wanted to get done the following week. Then as I go through them throughout the week, I cross them out. There’s a few reasons I do that. For me, I’m fairly visual, so that means I can see what’s going on. The yellow paper, unlike an application on my iPhone or my computer, can’t be minimized. It sits there all the time. It reminds me, ‘Hey! You've got to do these things on your To Do list. You’ve got to get them done.’ By having that bigger To Do list for the whole week, I can then break it down on a daily basis and create a smaller To Do list for the day and be very focused as to what it is I need to achieve. I can allot time for it, and away I go.
So the top four reasons I think you need a To Do list.
#1. Get organized
I see so many people chasing their tails, putting out fires, they’re just not organized. I think it’s because they just don’t have a clear idea of what it is they’re trying to achieve that day. A To Do list makes it very clear as to what you've got to get done that day, and helps you then work through that list, and makes sure you’re getting the things that matter done. It keeps you organized. It’s a key element of being successful, being organized. So you’re not burning time working out, ‘What am I going to do next?’ and you’re not distracted by things that aren't on your To Do list. If you've got a To Do list, stick to the To Do list. Get those things done first. It’s going to make you extremely organized which means you’re going to get the job done.
#2. It helps prioritize
The second thing I think the To Do list is vitally important for, the second reason why you need one, is because it helps you to prioritize. There are many things you could be doing. You could write down a To Do list with probably 50 things on it, too much of a trouble. There’s always plenty to do in life, and more and more things happen as your day goes on. You'll constantly be adding to a To Do list. The good thing about having a list is that you can prioritize. It’s very easy to look at all the things that are on the list and then choose what’s most important or what’s going to be the best use of your time.
#3. It helps you delegate
That brings me to point number three, it helps you delegate. For me, I look at my list, and as I prioritize, but do I really need to do that task or could I give it to somebody else to do? And so it helps me delegate much more effectively. By having that To Do list, it’s a visual cue to look through, prioritize and delegate.
#4. It is rewarding
Now the fourth reason, and I think this is probably the most important reason for me, is I find it rewarding to actually be able to see what it is I achieved in a day. So rather than just getting through the day… I don’t know if you've ever done this, but you get to the end of the day and think, ‘Well what did I actually do today? What did I achieve? Where did that day go?’ With a To Do list, I can pull that list out and go, ‘I did all of those. I did those 12 things. Whatever it was that was on that list, I have achieved some great things.’ So by getting through my To Do list, I'm now feeling rewarded which will encourage me to do the same thing again tomorrow. I get myself into a cycle that I absolutely love.
Now I'm going to finish off this video with a mantra that I live by. I'm going to encourage you to adopt this way of thinking. It is this, ‘The things that you say ‘yes’ to that will force you saying ‘no’ to something else.’ So when you say ‘yes’ to something, ask yourself, ‘What am I saying ‘no’ to to say ‘yes’ to this task?’ This is a good way for us to manage ourselves. The To Do list will manage all the tasks, but it’s no good if your To Do list has tasks on there you shouldn't be doing. So if somebody says, ‘Hey, do you want to do this?’ or you come up with an idea, ask yourself, ‘What am I going to have to say ‘no’ to to say ‘yes’ to that particular thing?’ If you’re saying ‘no’ to something that’s important to you or saying ‘no’ to more money or saying ‘no’ to spending time with your loved ones or saying ‘no’ to exercise or ‘no’ to your hobby… if you’re saying ‘no’ to something that’s important to you to say ‘yes’ to something else, than maybe you shouldn't be putting it on your To Do list.
Start your to do list!
Hopefully that’s helped you understand why you should have a To Do list, and those few tips will help you be more effective with your To Do list. I always welcome comments and suggestions and questions down below the video, so please leave those in the comments section.
About the Author
Ben Fewtrell is a sought-after Business Coach, Keynote Speaker and trainer who has featured in Virgin’s Inflight Magazine and Entertainment Portal, SKY Business and “Secrets of Top Business Builders Exposed”. He is also the host of the popular Business Brain Food Podcast where he interviews leading experts on anything and everything business.