What do you see when you look at your to-do list?
Highly specific action steps — or vague ideas that make you want to bang your head on your desk instead of getting to work?
This is a common mistake I see advisors make all the time. And the worst part is, their lack of to-do list progress gets self-labeled as laziness and procrastination. So, if you have ever looked at your to-do list in frustration and blamed yourself for not building momentum, perhaps you are not the problem. Maybe your to-do list is sabotaging your efforts.
Let’s pull up your to-do list right now. Maybe you use a notepad, a checklist on your phone, or a Google Doc. Open it up — and look for offenders that look like this.
Can you notice a pattern between these to-do items?
That’s right. None of these are actions. Items like this are a symptom that you haven’t actually decided what it is you need to do. Let me throw out a prediction: it’s probably not going to get done.
Great! Let’s look at each of these items and figure out exactly what it is that you need to do. A new list might look something like this.
When your to-do list is filled with specific, concrete, physical actions, you have set yourself up for success.
“But Chris, that’s too much work to boil down every item on my to-do list to a specific, concrete, physical action.”
You’re right. It is hard work. It’s also hard and frustrating to be overwhelmed by vague items on your to-do list.
And here’s the truth. If you want to make progress on your list, you will have to define those specific actions at some point. By deciding now, you make it much easier to get it done later. It’s in your own best interest to invest energy in defining and clarifying next actions before they get a chance to slow you down.
Too often, you miss opportunities to get something done (and create more time for yourself and your family) because you don’t have enough mental energy to decide exactly what needs to be done. Don’t make this mistake. Banish vague items from your to-do list — and watch your productivity soar!
Are you bumping up against a next action that’s particularly tough to nail down? Share it below in the comments. I’d love to help!