Many days, I struggle with sheer number of items I need to complete or review. I woke up this morning with a selection sheet to build for a new rehab project and two new properties to view. I also planned to spend quality time with my kids, attend a date night with my beautiful wife, and check in with our team in the office to see what new acquisitions we should review. On top of that, I needed to complete the budget report for the last 30 days on our construction side.
Do you find it hard to focus on what to accomplish each day and feel like you have a never-ending list of impossible “to-do’s”? Let’s explore how to conquer this overwhelming feeling and crush your to-do’s.
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Decide What’s Actually Important
This may seem really obvious, but let me tell you, it is so easy to have your eyes glaze over as you review all the little tasks that need to execute during a day. You must decide what is important and write those tasks out so that they’re concrete. For instance, you could write them on your notepad the night before so you have a clear plan for the next day as you go to sleep. Or you could wake up, and much like I do, review your digital calendar.
Complete each task as you have planned it with intentionality, and give new things their own time by putting them onto your calendar for another time. Start your day with a plan of action and know what order you will accomplish things. Make sure you dedicate enough time for each task to complete it.
One Thing at a Time
Just because you are a great “multi-tasker” doesn’t mean it is a good thing. Now, before you disagree, let me be clear. My wife is amazing at remembering 100 things to do during a day. She somehow manages to complete them all, from getting the kids fed, home schooling them, taking care of a million things in the house, and getting to the gym to grocery shopping, running by the bank, and more. And don’t forget the “putting up with Nathan” quotient. Still, she needs to know WHAT she needs to accomplish—and in what order.
Many things can be accomplished during a day, but they have to still be individually accomplished correctly and in the right sequence. You might have emails with a specific budget report to get out to your boss, but you can’t send out the report for review or approval without having the budget completed. And if you haven’t completed the budget report correctly because you rushed or were distracted, you may have missed something, prompting 100 questions via email and the need to redo portions of the report. Now you get to do it twice, instead of completing it correctly the first time.
The same thing applies to construction. If you send the painters in before all the sheetrock is complete, you get to send the painters in twice. Make sure you have both a 30,000-view of the task and the tactical steps in order to complete it. Some people can handle more items than others. Make sure you know what you can handle and perform the steps in the order you planned them.
Batching might be one of the best tools out there for completing what you need to get done. Let’s say you have 47 emails to send out to various people during the day. If you open and close your email (or, God forbid, just leave it open on your desktop all day) you will literally be emailing folks ALL DAY.
Stop it. How would you be able to get anything done?
Related: 5 Habits and Methods to Supercharge Your Productivity
Instead, start with the largest and biggest priorities of the day, and keep your email closed for that period of an hour or two. Ask yourself, what item(s), if completed, would make the rest of your work easier or unnecessary? Schedule email time where you fire off 5-10 responses or questions that came up during your morning, and then close your email back down. This also means you will force yourself to concentrate on, yes, one thing at a time. You complete those few very important items, and then move on to the next.
The other part of batching goes back to the previous two bullet points. First, decide what is actually important to do. And then complete each item correctly the first time. You can then batch things during your day like phone calls, emails, and social media updates.
Our habits drive a lot of the things we do without even knowing we are doing them. Make this process of laying out each day a habit. Calm your mind enough to have clarity on what the few most important objectives are for the day, and put those at the top of your list and beginning of your day. Minimize time in your inbox and taking phone calls or texts. Find the big items that take the focus, and put them first. Give yourself mental breaks during the day to stay fresh.
Prioritize what needs to happen, review your plan, complete it correctly, and execute the plan.
What are concepts you have put into practice at work or home that have been beneficial in getting work?