What is the Best Way to Write a To-Do List?

Are you ready to dive into the world of to-do lists, my friends?

Excellent. Because today I have an incredibly powerful strategy to get you taking action and completing your to-do list in no time.

And I know you’re going to love it.

Before we dive into this strategy, however, I want to tell you about my new webinar called Mastering Your Motivation.

Mastering Your Motivation Webinar

In this webinar, you will learn tangible strategies to help you boost your motivation and start taking action on your goals. No more procrastination. No more confusion.

Just results.

I’ll be hosting Mastering Your Motivation twice in the coming week. Once on Wednesday, February 19th at 11:00 am EST and again on Thursday, February 20 at 7:00 pm EST. I would love to have you join us!

Simply click through this link and choose the webinar date that works best for you. Once you sign up, I’ll send you an email with all the details about how you can join in on the fun.

I’ll see you there!

Re-thinking Your To-Do List

Alright, let’s talk about to-do lists, shall we?

This week we are exploring one of my favorite ways to rethink your to-do list.

And I’m telling you, once you implement this strategy, you will finally make progress on your tasks and experience that incredible feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day.

It’s time to stop working endlessly and have nothing to show for it.

After you learn this concept, you’ll be creating the results that you want in your life each day.

Check out the episode below or stream it on your favorite podcasting app. Then, let me know what you think!

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling and you’ll find the entire transcript waiting for you.

Let’s do this!

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE!

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL DISCOVER…

  • How to think differently about your to-do list
  • Why a results-focused to-do list will help you get more done
  • How to implement the results-focused strategy in your life today

LINKS FROM THE PODCAST

SUBSCRIBE AND REVIEW

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Also, if you’re loving the podcast, would you be a rockstar and leave me a review? Reviews help others find the show and allow me to share my message even further. Thanks, friend!

QUESTION:

What are your favorite strategies to master your to-do list? Do you struggle with crossing everything off your list each day? Let me know below!

Transcript: What is the Best Way to Write a To-Do List? Being Results Driven

Hey, friends! Welcome to the podcast. What’s going on with you this week? Are you geared up for Valentine’s Day? I did a podcast last week on the concept of love in our lives, and I’ve heard such great feedback from some of you, which is so fun. So if you haven’t listened to episode 28 yet, be sure to pop back to last week’s episode and give it a listen.

Mastering Your Motivation Webinar Announcement!

Anyway, I have been putting the finishing touches on my free Mastering Your Motivation webinar, which I’ll be hosting on both Wednesday, February 19th and Thursday, February 20, so if you’re ready to boost your motivation and start crushing those goals of yours, I would love to have you join us. Just head to imbusybeingawesome.com/motivation, sign up for the webinar time that works for you, and I’ll send you an email with all of the details about how you can join us. It’s going to be super fun.

What is the Best Way to Write a To-Do List? Be Results-Driven

Today I want to talk with you about your to-do list. And more specifically, I want to talk with you about all of the tasks listed on your to-do list. Because if you’re listening to this podcast, my guess is that your to-do list is pretty long. And what’s more, it never seems to get any shorter.

Now I want you to think about that do-to list of yours – or for some of you – the countless to-do lists scattered across post-it notes, backs of receipts, and your phone. What is on that list? What are the tasks that you’ve assigned for yourself?

My guess is that it sounds something like this: laundry, post office, soccer practice snacks, emails, grocery shopping, project proposal, form for colleague, call Nick, books flights, and the list goes on and on. 

Am I close?

If so, then you definitely want to keep listening to this episode, because this week I am sharing one my favorite ways to rethink your to-do list so you start making progress and finally experience a sense of completion at the end of each day. And we’re going to do this through a focus on results.

How to Organize Your To-Do List

Now, way back in episode 2, we talked about how to organize your to-do list in order to get things done. We explored the importance of recording all of the things you want to accomplish, we talked about how to identify your top priorities, and we learned how to schedule those tasks in your calendar over the upcoming month and weeks ahead.

Now today’s topic offers an additional layer to that organizational technique that will have you reaching the end of each day with that feeling of completion. So if you haven’t listened to episode 2, I definitely recommend scrolling back after this episode so you can put these strategies together to really master your schedule. But there is no need to listen to them in order. You can definitely listen to this episode first.

Now, as I’ve mentioned, we are talking about results today. And more specifically, we’re looking at the power of being results-driven, which is a concept that you can use as you create your overarching schedules for the week, as well as when you think about the tasks you’re completing each day. 

What is a Result-Driven To-Do List?

So let’s start here: when I say results-driven, what exactly does this mean?

Well essentially, being results-driven is a shift in the way you think about your tasks and projects each day. And you’re pivoting away from thoughts like, “I’m working on this expense report this morning,” or “I’m working on this podcast this afternoon” and you’re shifting instead to, “I will complete this expense report and email it to my boss by 11:00” And “I will write, record, and edit this podcast by 2:00.”

Now, I know this might sound like minor details. You might be thinking I’m crazy and that this little shift won’t make a difference. But I’m telling you, it’s everything. These details make all the difference. 

Just consider that to-do list of yours that you thought about at the beginning of the episode. 

Rethink Your Daily To-Do List

So often when we think about our long to-do lists and everything that we need to accomplish over the next day or the next week or even the next month, we immediately slip into overwhelm. We have this long list of tasks that say things like: emails, work on report, clean desk, groceries. 

And while it’s fine to do a big thought download of everything you want to do so you can clear your mind, this long list of tasks is not as effective as it could be in terms of helping your brain shift into “get it done” mode.

Instead, it gets lost in the never-ending list of stuff. Your brain starts thinking things like, “where should I start? How will I get this all done? When will I have time for all of this?” And you start spinning out in overwhelm rather than taking action.

And what’s more, when you’re simply listing your tasks without a focus on results, you’re not telling yourself what “done” looks like. If you just have “emails” written on your list, how do you even know what that means? Does it mean that you will answer all of the emails in your inbox? Does it mean that you will write 5 emails to different members of your team? Or does it mean that you’ll get to “inbox zero” by the end of the day?

Sure you might have a vague idea of what you think it means in the moment when you write it down, but when your brain is staring at that long list, it is going to jump on every opportunity it can to slip into confusion. It is going to seize every chance it can to think, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to start. Maybe I’ll just click over to Facebook and see what’s going on there for a few minutes. 

I mean, just think about it. Think about how different it feels to simply see “emails” on your schedule vs. “respond to all new emails from today and send feedback to Karen and Mike.” Having your task written as a result – meaning what will you have accomplished by the end of the day – rather than an open-ended task like “emails” not only gives your brain clear direction, it also helps you understand whether or not you fully completed that project for the day. 

Mindset Shift For Your To-Do List

When we shift our practice from simply listing things we want to do on a to-do list to scheduling results in our calendar, we set ourselves up for success. 

In other words, you provide yourself specific, concrete goals that – when you complete them by the end of the day – will leave you with clear results that move you forward.

I mean, be honest. Do you ever have those days where you look at your long to-do list, and you feel like you’re constantly working off of it, jumping from one thing to the next, but at the end of the day, you feel like you didn’t get anything accomplished? The end of the day rolls around and you’re thinking to yourself, “what the heck did I even do today?”

I know I’ve been there, and for me, it’s one of the most frustrating workdays. You work for hours and you have nothing to show for it.

But when you shift that practice and that perspective to being results-driven, you eliminate this tendency. Because you’re working toward results. You know exactly what you’re doing, and you know exactly what you’re producing each day.

To-Do List Examples

So let me put this into perspective. When I was in my office last week, I came across my 2018 planner on my bookshelf, and I took a minute to look at the things I was doing two years ago today. As a side note, I think it’s fun to look back and see what’s the same and what’s changed.

And what was so interesting was that while many of the items on the to-do list were pretty similar to what I do today, the way that I approach them is completely different. 

Vague Example

So I was using time blocking just as I do now, but the real difference was how I thought about these things that I wanted to get done.

The to-do list looked like this: 

Blog content 7:30-8:30

Lecture prep 8:30-10:30

Readings 10:30-12

Lunch 12:00-12:30

Research 12:30-2

Write 2:00-4  

Now, you might hear this list and think, what’s the problem? You know exactly what you’re going to do during each block of time. It sounds like a reasonable list, you’re not trying to solve world peace before lunchtime. So what’s wrong?

And if you’re thinking that, you’re right. It is a relatively organized list of tasks. However, the critical difference is how I am thinking about those tasks and the fact that I’m not listing these tasks as results.

In other words, when I sit down and look at this to-do list, I don’t have any clear indication of what “done” looks like. What the heck does blog content even mean? Am I drafting a blog post? Am I doing research? Or am I publishing content? Is it all of the above? Similarly, what does lecture prep mean? Am I writing the lecture? Am I creating powerpoint slides? Or am I just reviewing my notes? This to-do list is not specific, which not only creates confusion for my brain, but it also isn’t creating an end result that I’m working toward. I don’t have that clear stopping point that lets me know, “yes, I’ve completed this task in the time that I have.”

Results-Driven Example

So if I were to re-write this to-do list in a way that is clear and results-driven, it might look something like this instead:

Create outline and write first draft of blog post 7:30-8:30

Read through lecture notes for both classes and check that powerpoint videos and music examples work 8:30-10:30

Read the two articles I assigned my students and create 2 discussion questions from each reading 10:30-12

Lunch 12:00-12:30

Finish reading chapters four and five in the book I’m reading and take notes on the primary arguments of each chapter. 12:30-2

Fit the new arguments I identified during my research block into my article outline and write 500 words for the article 2:00-4  

Do you see how much of a difference this makes? Do you see how making just this small adjustment can create so much clarity for your day’s schedule? Because when you create a clear, results-driven action plan, there is no ambiguity. You know exactly what you need to do, and you know the exact time frame in which you need to get it done.

You eliminate the option for your brain to spin out in overwhelm and indecision, and you replace it with a concrete goal.

Stop Working On Your To-Do List 

And I want to take a step back for a moment to consider how we think about these tasks and projects in our lives. Now again, this might seem like minor details, but I promise you, it’s important.

Think about the difference between these two statements:

“I need to work on my podcast this morning from 8-10.” And “I am writing the outline and recording my podcast this morning from 8-10.”

They’re very similar concepts, but the details make all the difference.

Because when you’re simply “working on” something, you have no end destination. You have no endpoint. It’s kind of like getting in the car and knowing you want to get your coat dry cleaned, but you don’t know where any dry cleaners are let along which one you want to go to. But rather than deciding where you want to go, you just kind of drive around hoping you might stumble across a dry cleaner and hope they’re a good one as you start driving.

When you think about it with that example it seems ridiculous, right? Of course, you would want to know where you’re going. And if you’re anything like me, you’d even do some research on google or yelp to check out reviews first. You want to know exactly where you’re going and feel confident that it’s the best option for you. 

Start Creating Results with Your TO-Do List

And the same is true for your projects and tasks each day.

When you are results-driven, you know exactly where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. In other words, I’m not just going to work on lecture prep. Instead, I am going to read through my lecture notes for both classes. I’m also going to click through my powerpoint slides to ensure that the videos and music examples play correctly.

I’m not just to work on client prep for 30 minutes. Instead, I am going to review the notes from our session last week. I am going to create an outline for our call this week. And I am going to choose 5 different questions for us to explore during our upcoming call.

What is the Big Picture Result?

Now I want to take this concept of being results-driven one step further as well. And this idea is in relation to your bigger overarching results. This is the bigger concept of why you are working on these tasks in the first place.

Now, this could probably be a podcast topic in and of itself. Today, however, I want to put it in the context of being results-driven. 

So let’s say that you’re ready to sit down and create your schedule for the week, and you’re looking through this results-driven lens to really focus your to-do list and make it specific. 

As you do this, I encourage you to take one step further back. Consider what the bigger overarching result is that you’re working toward when you’re assigning tasks for yourself. When you step back and think about this bigger picture, it helps give your brain an extra boost of focus. It provides you with direction and clarity as you work.

So let me give you an example here to put things into perspective.

Client Example: Social Media Manager

I was working with a client last week who is a social media manager. She writes captions for her client’s social media posts each week, and she was in a bit of a slump. She was fighting some writer’s block and was having a hard time coming up with new content to share. 

So we took a few minutes to consider the overarching results she’s trying to create for each client. This helped her focus her attention and have a new perspective on these projects.

Because in her situation, each client has a different end-result in mind for their social media. One person wants their social media to simply boost engagement and build a strong community and following. One person is launching a new product in her shop. Her end results are getting her clients from her Instagram platform to her Etsy shop to buy the new item. Another person is doing research and trying to better understand her audience’s needs and struggles; her end result is gathering that information and getting to know her audience better.

And when my client stepped back and looked at the end result of each different social media account that she was managing, and the thought about the ultimate end goal that she was trying to create with her captions – whether that’s increased engagement, more sales, or a better understanding of a specific audience – that helped her focus her messaging, it inspired new ideas, and ultimately, create those captions for each account.

Podcast Big Picture Result

And I used this strategy as I sat down to think about the outline for this podcast today. I knew I wanted to talk about to-do lists. I decided that my bigger end-result was to share a tangible, simple strategy that you could learn during this podcast and walk away ready to practice it the same day. 

And when I identified that bigger end result, that gave me a place to put my focus. And so when I sat down for my scheduled block of time to both create my podcast outline and record the podcast, I also had a bigger picture helping guide my decisions and keep me focused and moving forward. 

Create an Effective To-Do List

So as you go forward today or tomorrow – whenever you’re listening to this podcast – and you think about the to-do list in front of you, I encourage you to try this little shift to a results-driven mindset. 

Take the tasks that you have scheduled in your calendar and turn them from vague to-dos into results-driven tasks with a clear endpoint. And as you’re doing this, check in with the bigger picture, too. What is the bigger end-goal as you work on this task? Why are you working on this project or this item in the first place?

I’m telling you, when you combine this small shift in the way you think about your tasks, and you combine them with the organization strategies we talk about in episode 2, your productivity is going to increase tenfold. 

You’re going to blow your own mind with what you accomplish.

Motivation to Complete Your Tasks

Now, one of the other challenges that come up for my clients when they are working on their to-do lists and working toward these big goals – even when they are implementing the results-driven practice, is finding that motivation to stick with it. Because let’s be honest, some days we’re just not feeling it.

Mastering Your Motivation Webinar

And that’s where my Mastering your Motivation webinar comes in. I am super excited about this webinar. I’ve been taking all of the different challenges that I’ve heard from clients and listeners as well as my own stumbling blocks when it comes to staying motivated, and I put together some of my favorite strategies to help you uncover your commitment to yourself and your goals. 

And in order to share this with you, I decided to hold a webinar that shares some of these tools to help you practice that dedication to showing up, following through on your tasks and goals, and to starting to see those results that you want in your life.

We are going to talk about different ways that you can look at your life and your goals to help you find your motivation to start moving forward. And you will learn actual strategies that you can take directly from the webinar and start implementing them in your life that day.

Webinar Times

Now, I will be hosting two different webinars the week of February 17, 2020. The first will be on Wednesday, February 19th at 10:00 a.m. EST and the second will be on Friday, February 21st at 11:00 a.m. EST

Again that’s Wednesday, February 19th at 11:00 a.m. EST and Thursday, February 20th at 7:00 pm EST.

Now if you’re looking at your schedule and you’re feeling disappointed because you think you can’t make it, I encourage you to still sign up, because there will be a short period of about a week that you can still access the replay video.

But with that being said, I am offering some special bonuses for people who do show up to the call live, so do your best to make it live so you can get your hands on the goodies.

But if you can’t no sweat. Still sign up and you will get the replay emailed to your inbox.

So if you’re ready to learn more about creating motivation and sticking to your schedules and goals no matter what, be sure to head over to imbusybeingawesome.com/motivation and sign up now. I can’t wait to see you at the webinar.

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