We’ve all got them – To Do Lists!
We have lists for all the different areas of our lives.
The problem is when it comes to running a business, most people’s To-Do Lists don’t help them be more productive; they actually slow you down.
It might sound CRAZY, but it’s TRUE!
When you write out a long list of the things that need to be done, it’s likely the list will include many items that have little to do with the success of your business. Let’s call them the ‘C’ priorities.
In fact, if you were to ignore these C priorities altogether, it’s likely NO ONE would even notice. These are the seemingly never ending, low level tasks that even when they are completed, are quickly replaced by another similar looking list of activities.
By creating a long To Do List containing all these C priorities, two things tend to happen.
- Because they are seen as small and insignificant, many entrepreneurs choose to tackle these items first in the misguided belief that once they are done, they will be able to focus on the bigger issues.
- All these low-level tasks make it more difficult to see what the priorities really are and simply cause a sense of feeling overwhelmed based on the sheer number of things that need to be done.
The Progress Illusion
The Progress Illusion is a phenomenon experienced by many people who have the habit of listing all the low and high priority tasks together on one list. By doing this, the temptation to tackle all the small things first dramatically increases because by their nature, the small tasks are easier to complete meaning you can finish many more of them in a short period of time, creating the illusion of greater progress being made.
The truth is your business or life doesn’t advance further because you ticked off more low-level C priorities from your list.
It’s the complete opposite.
Focusing on eliminating the small things means delaying tackling the big things that will make the biggest difference and have the largest impact on your results.
Where to Focus
Chances are you are familiar with the Pareto principle. It’s a great starting point for where your focus should go.
Often referred to as the 80:20 principle, Pareto’s principle is one of the most commonly quoted and used strategies for increased productivity and performance.
- 80% of your results will flow from 20% of your activities
- 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customers
- 80% of your wardrobe will just hang there and you’ll wear the same 20% over and over again!
(Okay Pareto didn’t suggest the last one, that was me, but I think you’ll find it’s true!)
The first key to transforming a TO DO list into a SUCCESS LIST is to narrow your focus and remove all the low-level stuff that masks the true priorities.
Low-level tasks, if not outsourced or delegated, need to at least be separated from the key money-making priorities of the business.
But if you want to really focus your energy, then do as Gary Keller suggests in his book, The One Thing, and apply the 80:20 principle to your To Do List to truly zero in on the ONE THING that you need to be focusing on.
When you can identify your ONE thing, then you will have dismissed your TO DO LIST and replaced it with the single focus needed to create real success.
Step one is eliminate the low-level stuff, then hone your focus by applying the 80:20 principle to what’s left of your priorities to find the 1-3 things where your focus will pay the biggest dividends.
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