Overwhelm-Busting To-Do List

I'm going to talk to you about the Overwhelm-Busting To-Do list. This is a system I've put together which I really recommend for just getting everything out of your head and setting up a system so that you actually get all the stuff you need done without stressing too much about it. 

A lot of us have a problem with procrastination and the thing that we struggle with, especially when you're an entrepreneur is we're very good at getting things done for someone else or if there is a clear deadline. If it doesn't fall into one of those categories, it quite easily gets left behind. 

Maybe becoming self-employed as one of those things that you've been procrastinating. One of the main reasons that things get procrastinated is because they're too big. Becoming self employed, that's a massive big task, isn't it? What I want to help you do is to start breaking down these projects and get them actually done. 

The first thing I want you to do is what I call taking a massive brain dump. Download the PDF below, there should be one for most of these videos. And I want you to brainstorm all of the things that you have to do daily, weekly, monthly, ad hoc, whatever. If it helps have a think about what you have to get done in the next 30 days.

Now you might choose to do this just for your professional life or just for your personal life. At this point in time, you might choose to do both. I use a system for everything. Just write it all down no matter how big or small. I'm not too embarrassed to admit that when I'm super stressed, I have everything in there like ‘eat lunch’ and ‘shower’ and stuff like that because if it's not in there, then I get worried it won't get done. And I'd much rather just put it on my to-do list.

Chuck it all on there, right? Then the next step is I want to you get some colour pens, highlighters, whatever you prefer, and underline or highlight all the things on this list that are projects rather than tasks. Now what I mean by that, a task is a simple step. It involves normally just one person or one action. Ideally a task is under 15 minutes long. If your tasks are longer than that, you might break it down further. If you have to read a book, for example, that's going to take you longer than 15 minutes, you might break it down into 15 minute tasks. So read that book for 15 minutes. You might just have that on your to do list multiple times. 

A project is something that is bigger than a task. So does it involve more than one person? Is it longer than 15 minutes? Doesn't involve multiple steps. Is it perhaps something that you are procrastinating? Is it something that you don't even see the beginning of? Like how do I even start this? 

What I want you to do is break the projects down. So for example, ‘building a website,’ that is a project, clearly that is more than a 15 minute tasks. You're never going to wake up in the morning and think, ‘oh, I totally have time today to fit in building a website.’ And that is why that's going to get procrastinated, because it's too big to fit in any day's work. It's too scary. You haven't really identified what the first step is.

It's super important to break down all your projects into your individual tasks. So step one of building a website. Let's assume we're going to hire someone to do the tech side. Step one might be to make a diagram of the site map. Step two might be to write the About Me page. Step three might be collect 15 nice images to use on the website. Step four might be to look on Upwork for a suitable person to make the website. Step five might be to pick someone to make the website. Step six might be to email that person and send them what you want from the website, etc. 

Now all of a sudden you've got a project which is broken down into individual tasks. And you can see the beginning. You can see the forest for the trees, I might not wake up one morning and think, ‘oh, I totally have time to make a whole website today,’ but I might have time for one or two of those steps. And once you start getting those steps done, you're on the path to doing the project and the motivation helps you and carries you along. And once you start seeing results, it's really exciting. And then next thing you know, you have a website. 

Now the next bit, sometimes I have some resistance and other times people are super excited about. But what I really want you to do is have an online to-do system.

Different people have different formats when I meet them to first discuss this. Some people have a paper diary, other people have little notes on their phone where they list all the things they want to do. Those things stay on that list and never get done. So clearly that system's not working. It's really crucial that you have a specific program. Now I love ToDoist. I will talk to you until the cows come home about how much I love ToDoist. And I will use that for a lot of examples because that's what I use. But there are other types. There's Trello, there's Asana, and more. Trello definitely is more visual, if you'd like to have boards and make them pretty.

ToDoist is much more simple. It's just different lists. You can break them down into projects and you can use emojis now, which is cool, but it's fairly simple, which is what I love about it. 

In any case, everything I'm going to talk to you about on ToDoist, you can do on most of these different apps. So, the important thing is actually finding an app, a bit of software that matches the inside of your brain. If you are struggling with an app, then possibly it's just not intuitive to you. And maybe you should try one of the other ones, um, but have a fiddle around and see what you think will work best with you.

What I love about all of the electronic softwares is that the reason why I think it's so important that you get one that's electronic is that you can have it on your phone, you can have it on your laptop, you can share different projects or specific tasks with people. So it gets really, really important when you start delegating work or hiring people. It makes it so much easier once you've created a workflow, which I'll talk to you about in the second course. It makes it so much easier to delegate stuff, which is another thing that entrepreneurs struggle with.

So the next thing I want you to do is populate your to-do list app. If you've never used this before and if you've just downloaded it, obviously this is going to take a little bit of time to put everything in. It's so worth it. Just bear in mind that you might be tweaking the system over the next few weeks. Once you've got your system in place, it's liberating. 

We're nearly there, don't worry. Once you have all of the tasks in your electronic to-do list system, I want you to add date to each task, every single task, every single one. 

These are not necessarily due dates. They are actually the dates that you think you will have time to do the tasks. Don't stress too much about this either because this is flexible and you can tweak the dates at any time, but just put in a date for every single task when realistically looking at your calendar, looking at your obligations, your appointments, when will you have time for these different tasks. Unless you put a date on these things, they will just get left behind. They'll just end up on that long list of things to do that never get done. 

The final step with this right is to do your morning review. Or perhaps you do it at the end of the day before. But what you need to do is you spend five minutes every single day looking at the task for the upcoming day or the following day and having a look at your compiled tasks.

There will be tasks you've added days ago, weeks ago, months ago, years ago. The reason why I set up the system originally is because I had a task that I had to remember to do in 10 years. So in about 4 year's time, I'm going to get a reminder to do this task. So these tasks every day are compiled over time. And you might look at your list of tasks and think, ‘Wow, those are totally achievable today. I've got six tasks, six 15 minute tasks on my to-do list. I can bosh that out even with a bit of faffing around or a bit of going over the time. Of course I've got like two hours to do this sort of stuff.’

You might look at the list though and think, ‘I don't think I can do all that. That is a lot of stuff and I actually have three appointments with clients today.’ 

Don't worry about it. Have a look at your list. You will know which tasks actually really need to get done that day and which ones you've just put a guideline date on and just move the ones you that are not a priority to the next day or the next day you think you will have time for it. Just make sure that it keeps a date attached to it and that you move it to another day that you think potentially you might have time to do it. 

This is strategic time management, not procrastinating, strategic time management. You've decided what tasks you can do today and what tasks need to move to another day. Now you can just crack on with those tasks. 

If you manage to do the system for 30 days, it will become a habit and you will reap the benefits of it. If you wake up in the middle of the night and you think, ‘I've got to remember tomorrow to send this email,’ just put it in your to-do list. I am sure your phone is kept by your bed. Just chuck it in there and then forget about it. Go back to sleep. Don't spend the next three hours thinking, ‘I have to remember to send that email. Have to remember to send that email.’

Or worse, when you're out with friends and a notification pops up on your phone that you've just got an email from someone. Just immediately put it in your to-do list to do the task they're asking, don't do it when you're out having fun. 

This is a way to help you clock off because you're going to have the ability to do the tasks that you need to do during the day and feel like you've accomplished something. 

If you set yourself achievable goals for each day, you finish the day feeling good and feeling like you've achieved something, which means you could clock off and go and enjoy your evening with your family, with your friends, or just watching Netflix, hanging out with your dog, but without that guilt that you shouldn't be relaxing because you have so much more to do.

Now you know that tomorrow's in order too. You've decided what you're going to do tomorrow and you've made it achievable. So you're going to smash that out of the park too. So get the system in place, try to do it for 30 days. Please feel free to contact me as always. [email protected] if you've got any questions. 

I'd love to hear how you get along with it because honestly, it was life-changing for me not having to remember to recycle every Wednesday. So try it out. Good luck. And I hope it goes well for you.