Are To Do Lists Holding You Back From Taking Action?

But I need them!

Hey, thanks for coming back for another episode of The Bootstrap Boutique where beginners build businesses.  My name is Megan and I am super glad you’re here.

Had a weird thought today, just kind of came out of nowhere.  Should I stop making to do lists? Sounds crazy, right? I think it sounds a little crazy to even entertain that thought because without a to do list, I don’t know what I would do all day.

But what I’m starting to realize is that having a to do list is a crutch.  I’m a very task oriented person, I get a lot of joy out of crossing items off a to do list.

Have you ever made a to do list and the very first thing you write is write a to do list because you know you can can cross it off when you’re done with that list?  Nod.  Everybody nod.

I find that I make to list when I don’t know what else to do.

When I don’t know what my next step is in a process.  I will sit down and write out a to do list of all the things that I have to do.  Because I work from home, that ends up being things like yes, check email, respond to message, work on project but also make up bed, do laundry, wash dishes, that just don’t belong on my to do list at all.

To do lists are great for getting everything out of your head and into one place.  It’s like off site memory storage or something like that.  But the problem with that is that it tricks your brain into thinking that you’ve actually done something and you really haven’t done anything.  You just wrote down all the things that you have to do.

Not good enough.

The problem is that a to do list is not prioritized.  It’s just literally a list of all the crap you have to do.  And so your brain will automatically pick the easiest thing to do.  So if I have make up my bed or work on a project both on my to do list, I’m going to go make up my bed first because then oh I can get that hit of crossing something off my list and it feels good, like I did something important. But i didn’t, I made up my bed, which didn’t really have to be done.

You ever had one of those days where you know you were busy all day but you can’t tell anybody what you did?  That’s because you were not focused on important tasks.

It’s like, yeah, I should know that, I do know that, but I do it anyway.  And then what happens?  The project is still there.  So the hard stuff, the big stuff, the important stuff, that you should be working on, it just gets carried forward every day and just sits on your to do list.  And if you ever keep a notebook and you go through and you look through all the pages of all your to do lists, you’ll see that one item that was on there for like two weeks, because you just keep carrying it over.

Here’s what I want to challenge you to do, and I’m going to work on this also.  When you make a to do list, just, you know, lets not make big crazy changes here right now, but let’s just continue to write down everything we have to do.

But then go back and prioritize within that list.

What are your number one priorities? what are your number two priorities?  What should you probably not be doing today but you put it on the list anyway because its on your brain and its bugging you?  Let’s focus on doing those first things first.  That’s not going to be easy, for me its going to be a change in the way that I operate, but I really hope that it’s going to make me a lot more productive and able to actually get more stuff done.  Both in my day job and in starting this business.

Let’s move it away from being such a crutch back to being an actual useful tool that can help us.

Alright, thumbs up to all my fellow to do list makers on this video.  Leave me a note in the comments, let me know if you have a really good way to use a to do list, not as a crutch but as something that actually helps you get more things done during the day.  I would love to hear it!

Thanks so much for coming back again this week, as always, would love to hear your thoughts, you can find me on twitter @megloftin.  Make sure you’re subscribed to this channel so you never miss a video, we post new ones every Wednesday. I will talk to you next time.  Take care guys!

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