My #1 Productivity Tip
April 27, 2016
Step 1 – Each morning write out your daily to do list on a whiteboard.
Step 2 – Do everything on that list before you go to bed.
This approach is simple and surprisingly effective.
Why a Whiteboard?
It’s crucial that the list is on a whiteboard. Ideally, the whiteboard should be large, fixed to the wall and within sight of your dedicated workspace. The reason for the whiteboard is it forces your list to be more prominent and important. It becomes a constant visual reminder of what you are and should be working on. Every time you glance up you can see exactly what is left to do that day.
The other benefit of the whiteboard is everyone can see exactly how much (or little) you put on your list each morning.
Why can’t I go to bed yet?
The absolute nature of the list forces you to work hard early so you don’t get behind. When you slack off during the day you feel the pain later at night. After one or two late nights you start adjusting your habits.
- When something comes up that isn’t urgent add it to tomorrow’s list. I keep my list for the next day in the notes area on my calendar. I delete the notes each day after I add it to my daily list.
- Leave some padding in the list so when something comes up that is urgent you have room in your schedule. I keep my to do list to about 4-6 hours of solid work each day.
- I include optional items on my list (these fall outside of the 4-6 hours of normal items). That way when I complete my full list I can choose to tackle optional items. If not, I can erase them without guilt. These items are noted with a question mark behind them. They also appear lower in my list.
- Include long term projects in your to do items. Projects that aren’t urgent tend to get shoved off most people’s lists until they become urgent. Adding small attainable goals for your long-term projects will help so you won’t be rushed when your deadline hits.
- Include non business related items on your list. These can include family obligations, meetings, exercise, really anything you are doing that day. It’s important because then you don’t forget about your other time commitments. The list then works more seamlessly with the rest of your life. You aren’t working till 2 in the morning when you remember you had to volunteer at your kid’s school for half the afternoon.
- Break goals into smaller chunks when possible. This system doesn’t work well if you add something too broad to your list. For example “work 4 hours on x project” is worthless. Your goal should be more specific and shorter, like these examples: contact 3 new leads for business x, fix layout of contact form, test checkout process, run 1 mile, kiss your wife.