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Expert List Techniques You’re Not Doing – But Should! (+ a freebie!)

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’re probably a pretty savvy list maker. So how do you take it to the next level?

Getting the most out of your list, firstly, means understanding how priorities work. For example, today you might want to pick up groceries and also start planning the first chapter of your book. (That’s two separate lists – I’m sure you already know that!)  But how do you make sure that the here and now doesn’t override your long term goals?

Split your lists into lists: Immediate Priority vs Long-Term Priority

Not only do I believe in having multiple lists, but those lists can be split into different categories. We aren’t talking about daily to-do lists here to be clear. These lists are IMMEDIATE PRIORITY vs. LONG-TERM PRIORITY lists.

I like to use Evernote to keep my goals separate – and I split them into 2 notebooks. Your active list is what you are going to do for the week (like writing that book chapter!) or other important things that are on your mind – like knocking off some of your Christmas shopping! In another notebook I store my long-term priority list. This is where I keep all my ongoing projects and reminders for things I need to do later in the month or later in the year.

For example, if your goal for now is to write chapter one of your book, it’s a good idea to keep your outlines for the later chapters in this notebook. You don’t need them right now, but you’ll want to have them handy for reference. Or you can keep links to the Google Docs where you keep your notes or inspiration in this folder as well.  Anything that will make it easier for you to start crossing off tasks is helpful.

Be very specific  

With your IMMEDIATE PRIORITY list you need to be very specific. For example, I make my daily to-do lists at the end of each day. I think of every email or phone call I want to make the next day and I clearly write out what needs to be done.  Instead of “emails” I will write “send an email to Trisha about Monday’s event” This helps me to keep on task during the day.  I’m also automatically prioritizing as I write my list.  

To learn how to do that sign up for my free giveaway “Prioritize Like a Pro.”

With LONG-TERM PRIORITY lists it’s good to have an overarching idea of what you want to do, but it’s best not to get too bogged down in the details. To go back to the book example, you would set yourself a deadline for when you want to complete each chapter and write and outline for each of them. But you wouldn’t plan the days you’re going to write it until you’re closer to that deadline. Then you can pull from that list when the time comes to make your daily to-do lists.

Plus these lists can overlap each other – by that I mean you’ll be using them at the same time. So you should reference them and pull items from the long-term priority list and stick it on the immediate priority lists. Eventually it will graduate to the daily to-do list. Think of each list as a stepping stone – as you move from one to the next you’re closer to completing the task.

The reason I keep these separate is so that you can focus more on what’s on your daily to-do list without getting too distracted by those big goals. I would recommend checking in on your long term priority list every week or so.  This way you know what tasks you have coming up. But you won’t feel overwhelmed by everything you have to do.  

If you’d like to check out my system to Prioritize Like a Pro fill in the form below and I’ll send you my free giveaway.  






 

5 Things Productive People Don’t Do

Being a productivity expert means people are often ask me for ways to get more done. Many people, I find, approach this from the wrong angle. They want to know how they can write their lists for maximum efficiency or what smartphone app is going to manage their busy schedule. While these things can help, being productive isn’t so much about what you do, it’s more about what you don’t do.

I am a big believer in doing less with my day. This may seem like it’s at odds with being productive, but it’s much better to do a few things really well then lots of things poorly. For example, if you do a rushed job when you vacuum, you will probably have to go over it again in a couple of days. However, if you  try to reach into every nook and cranny you won’t have to worry about vacuuming again for a while. Read more

How Doing Nothing Can Help You Get More Done

I meet people all the time who struggle with their productivity because they believe that being efficient means doing as much as humanly possible, all day every day. Not true! Productivity is more about quality over quantity, as well as prioritizing your time to suit what is important to you.

I love finding other productivity nerds like myself who are just as passionate about this stuff. Like Chris Bailey author of The Productivity Project. Chris recently did a TEDx talk about the year he spent trying to hack his productivity. He found that the most important lesson he learned was how valuable meditation was in his day to day life.

While most people see meditation as doing ‘nothing’ Chris found that these quiet moments allowed him to reflect on his day and focus on the tasks ahead.

Being productive doesn’t mean you have to be physically doing something all the time!

Here are some of Chris’s top tips:

The Rule of Three – Keep it simple. Give yourself just three tasks that you want to have accomplished by the end of the day. By limiting how much you have to get done, you can be certain you’ll complete everything you set out to do! Once you’ve finished those three tasks you can move onto other smaller chores.

Quit Multitasking – I harp on about the perils of multitasking all the time so it’s good to see that someone else agrees with me! Chris points out that the more tasks you do at once, the less chance of success you have with any one task.

All Things in Moderation – You can’t be at your best if you haven’t slept well or had enough to eat. Balance your day and take care of yourself. Make sure to get a little exercise, as well as eat healthy meals. Chris is also a big believer in taking regularly breaks like me!

Disconnect – Technology is nice, but when we become reliant on it, it can really hamper our productivity. Treat the internet as a nice tool for occasional use instead of something you must have!

Let your Mind Wander – If you’re too busy rushing from one thing to another your mind never has a chance to relax. Downtime is often the best place for coming up with new ideas. It’s why I stopped reading articles at breakfast and just let myself have a peaceful moment! I’ve come up with so many ideas for my blog this way!

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P.S. If you like TEDx talks you should check out my friend Terri’s! It’s about why you should stop searching for your passion and it has over 1,000,000 views!

Don’t Waste Your Sunday

I love Sundays! There’s so many things you can do with this final day (or first depending on how you look at it) in the week. You can catch up on errands and chores, relax with a bottle of wine and Netflix or get some much-needed sleep. The only problem with Sundays is that they feel really, really short!

It’s fairly normal to get to 9pm and look back and wonder where the day has gone. This can sometimes lead to “Sunday Evening Bum Out”. It can really set you off on the wrong foot for the start of the week.

Here are some ways to make sure you get the most out of this day so you can start on Monday feeling refreshed!

Plan your Monday on Friday – As tempting as it is to rush out of the office as soon as you can on a Friday – it might be worth to take a little bit of extra time to plan out your Monday. I like to make an action plan all the things I have to do so I can hit the ground running when I get into the office. It’s also smart to get your desk space and your email inbox tidy as well. Now you can relax all weekend knowing that your Monday will run smoothly. Read more

The 3 Classic Flaws of Productive People

What makes a person organized? If you ask my friends and family they’d say that I was born with stellar time management and organizational skills – but that’s not true!  I’m actually a procrastinator and it wasn’t until I became a TV producer that I got my act together because I had no other choice!  When your segment is going live – you need to be ready…no procrastinating allowed!

When I started to think about it – I  realized this is actually the case of most of the super-organized people I know. Many of them were once disorganized or procrastinated just like me.

So what changed? How were they able to overcome it? They found a coping system. A hack to make sure they accomplished their tasks despite their flaw. Here’s a few of the most common ones:

 

Being Forgetful – Whether it’s true or not, I forgot always sounds like the lamest excuse. While we are all permitted the occasional bout of forgetfulness, frequent memory lapses are seen as an excuse for laziness or a lack of motivation. In order to get by,  genuinely forgetful people turn to list making and organization as a way to keep themselves in line. Many forgetful people will develop a daily routine so that they don’t forget key tasks. They tend to struggle with too many lists as they compulsively write everything down.

Tip – A great trick that I use all the time myself is setting reminders in my phone. If a friend tells me she’s heading off to vacation on Friday, I set a reminder in my phone and then I don’t forget to wish her a good trip.

 

Perfectionism – It seems obvious, but many productivity obsessed people are perfectionists from a young age. Everything must have a purpose and a place – there is no room for error. Perfectionists also turn to lists because they hate it when things go wrong. So they will often make a backup plan for a backup plan! Their only downfall is they can sometimes waste time making sure their list is juuust right instead of getting on with it. Part of the problem here is also getting everything in line before getting started on a task.

Tip – Sometimes you just have to say “I’m going to work on this thing for 10 minutes and see how it goes.” Oftentimes that’s the only push you need to get started and combat being a perfectionist.

 

Handling Procrastination – As I’ve always said procrastination is my fatal flaw. I can always think of at least 10 other things I could do instead of the task I should be working on! So I started using lists to force myself to keep on track. The one problem I have though is that I will often waste time looking up apps or websites that could help me complete my tasks, when it would have been quicker to just do it!

Tip – Making daily lists of what I need to get done and breaking up a task into steps has been amazingly helpful when getting through my daily to dos.

What’s your flaw that forced you to be more productive?