My to-do list was 3 pages long. Double sided. It ranged from “Make eye appointment” and “call Mom” to “create teleseminar talk” and “create social media plan for client A” to “research homemade cat food” and “learn Quickbooks.”
I had just gotten back from being out of town unexpectedly and was in the midst of several new business projects in addition to my regular client work. And a life. Somewhere in there I had a life beyond business and to-do lists.
I was working frantically trying to get caught up and get back into a regular schedule. But the list just kept growing and I kept getting more and more scattered.
I left my keys in the door 3 days in a row. I was 2 days late paying a bill because I just forgot all about it. I drove across town to Target 3 times in a week for the same item because I kept forgetting it. (I don’t even want to remember what else I did that week!)
I was doing all sorts of weird and forgetful things, but what I wasn’t doing was the important genius work for my business – you know, the stuff that is actually going to build my business and increase my income?
I don’t know any business owner who hasn’t occasionally felt like their to-do list has taken over their life. Unfortunately, most of our to-do lists have little to do with our genius work. Instead they are cluttered with items like getting groceries, going to the post office, doing laundry, getting a haircut, taking in the recycling, and returning those endless emails.
I call all these to-dos time drainers – mostly because we often go about them haphazardly and spend a lot of jumping from one to the next without a plan or structure. When our lists get too long, we can start to get scattered. Then we end up with even more to-dos that drain our time and energy away from our genius work.
So, what to do about all those time-drainers?
Gather them up and create a system for doing them. Instead of doing those individual to-dos of life randomly whenever they pop up – set aside a predetermined amount of time each day to take care of them and batch similar ones together. Do the same for the bleed-y business to-dos (email, scheduling appointments, social media time, etc.).
Here’s an example of how I’ve done it:
- Monday is errand day. This is when I get groceries, run to Target, take in the recycling, go to the pet store, and the post office.
- Tuesday is household to-dos. That’s when I do laundry, clean, go through stuff and de-clutter.
- Wednesday is appointment day. I schedule all my massages, hair appointments, dentist appointments, eye check-ups, etc. on this day.
- Thursday is business only day – no to-dos allowed!
- Friday is finances. This is going to the bank, doing Quickbooks, paying bills, and reconciling accounts.
And I don’t just say – “I’m doing errands on Monday!” I schedule it in. It’s on Monday, I’m doing errands from 4 pm – 7pm.
Then, I schedule in daily time for the bleed-y business to-dos. 11 am – 12 pm and 3 pm – 4pm are set aside for checking and answering emails, scheduling appointments, and doing social media.
The beauty of creating a system like this (and you’ll have to tweak it to fit your life and business, of course) is that you no longer waste hours of time in a week because you’re making your 3rd trip to the grocery store. Instead losing focus in the middle of your creative work 3 days in a row because you had to stop to go to an appointment, you knock them all out in 5 hours on one day and don’t have to worry about them.
The best part (at least, for me)? Your life is no longer taken over by to-dos. You no longer wonder when or how you’re going to fit them all in. You know. It’s written down and planned. Your brain can relax because it knows you’re taking care of it and it can just focus on your genius work.
Capture those time-drainers and get them in a system.
Free up your life to do the work you love to do.