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Biz Ladies: Creating The Two To-Do List

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Today’s Biz Ladies post comes to us from Caroline Clark, a professional organizer and Certified Interior Decorator in New York City. She helps women create simple, beautiful, and sustainable organizational systems for their homes and small businesses, and today she is sharing her tips for getting through your daily to-do lists. Thanks, Caroline, for this straightforward advice! –Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump…

Have you ever pulled out your 3 page long to-do list, stared at it until your eyes glazed over and then panic-chosen a random task just to feel like you’re doing something? Yeah, me too. We set ourselves up for frustration and failure by not narrowing down and prioritizing our constantly growing to-dos. The best way to combat To-Do List Failure Syndrome is to be intentional and extremely limited in what you choose to accomplish on any day. When I make the following suggestion to my clients, it’s usually met with something ranging from a mildly skeptical look to a straight-up eye roll, but hear me out: Choose two things. Get them done. That’s it.

-Wait a second there, lady. I only get to do two things? I have way more stuff that needs to get done! 

Remember, these two things are your priorities for the day. You can absolutely go above and beyond your two chosen tasks, but the point is that you’re focusing on those tasks before you do anything else. Prioritizing these two tasks means you’ll actually get stuff done that needs doing, instead of working on something that may or may not be vital to your business.

-Do you mean two things for the whole day, or two things at work and two things at home? 

It’s entirely up to you, but I usually choose two business-related tasks and then two personal tasks. The important thing to remember is that we’re talking about tasks, not projects. “Clean the apartment” is a project, not a task. Break it down and choose your top two priorities, like “scrub shower” and “clean out fridge” and then keep going if you have more time.

Here’s how it works:

1. Keep a master to-do list 

This method doesn’t replace your monster master to-do list; it makes it manageable. It doesn’t matter whether your master list is in your phone, your planner, or its own little notebook, just keep it somewhere that’s easy for you to access and add to when you think of new stuff that’s got to get done. I keep separate work and home lists as two tabs in a small notebook You can also group tasks by type (one page for errands, another for calls to make, etc.) so you can save time by knocking out a bunch of similar tasks when it’s convenient.

2. Pick your two things

Take a couple of minutes at the end of your work day to scan over your master list and choose two tasks for the following day. These should be the things that will generate income, solve a problem that’s been weighing on you, or are important and time sensitive.

3. Commit to your two things 

Go ahead and write them down somewhere you’ll see them first thing when you start work the next day. You can use my free Get 2 Things Done template for this!

4. Leave your office/studio/workspace 

Whistling a jaunty tune optional.

By choosing your two tasks the day before, you can jump right in to your most important work. No more wasting time at the start of your day, trying to figure out what you should be working on and piddling away half the morning on Pinterest. Having the visual reminder of the two tasks you’ve chosen helps you stay on track and reminds you that you’ve made a commitment to yourself and your priorities.

What other strategies have helped you stay on top of your to-dos? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! You can find me at  HYPERLINK “http://www.organized-simplicity.com” organized-simplicity.com for more organizational and time management tips and tricks.

 

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18 Comments

Alesya

Love this concept! I recently went through a loss and someone suggested to get back on track I focus on doing ONE task a day. Giving myself permission to feel good about doing that one thing a day was a big step. And it made me want to do more things too.

Lesley Myrick

The link to the “get 2 things done” template isn’t working – can you please update the post? I’d love to take a look at this helpful tool. Thanks!

Lesley Myrick

Thanks for updating the post, but the template link still isn’t working – takes you to a 404 page on Organized Simplicity.

Brimful

We have found that mapping out a monthly goal/to do list for our business has helped guide our weekly tasks. Caroline is right on – bite size to-do lists are the way to go!

chrissy

I’ve always heard you can only get 3 major things accomplished/day, yet am always so disappointed in myself as my day gets away from me. As a on-woman shop, it can be overwhelming trying to work on my business while working in my business. I am definitely, definitely giving your method a try – thank you both!

Amy Scott

I love this technique and have been using a variant for years- I keep a master list in my portfolio, then stick a post-it on the edge of my laptop every night before bed that lists only the critical stuff for the next morning. It makes me feel good to finish off the post-it, and that way key tasks never get lost in the big long master list. Yay!

nancy mcdowell

Link worked just fine for me. Great idea … thank you

Miriam Wasmund

I love Caroline’s less is more method here, it’s simple to the point and very attainable, which leads to more positive productivity all around! Thanks Caroline!

Sarah Swanson

This sounds like a great way to finally take care of some of those little things that never seem to leave my to-do list! The link works fine for me, and I love that there’s a coloring book version of the template.

Dannielle

This is great! I have been working from a weekly to-do list, but it’s getting a bit overwhelming when it stretches over more than one page. Will definitely be giving this method a go!

Lauren

I SO need this for my classroom and my home. Trying these techniques tomorrow!

Julie

Thanks for sharing! Love this method – prioritizing to-do lists into manageable tasks makes the list much less intimidating.

Molly

Tried it, loved it and want more of it!! Thanks Caroline, looking forward for more fresh, fun ideas.
Nothing to it but to do it !
Link is working grand.

Barri

This is a great strategy, I love the idea of just picking 2. I tend to be a bit over zealous once the cleaning/organizing/get crap done bug hits. I spread myself too thin and lose hope, but a 2 item to do list, this seems highly attainable. Going to try to work this into my million things to do schedule. Thanks so much for sharing!

L

Terrific advice! I would not have thought to keep a “Master To Do List” — thanks!

Lucie

Such a simple idea… But the best things are alwas the simplest. I struggle with my enormous to-do lists all the time. I work full-time, study at the university and run a household = I never have the time to get everything done. Maybe this could be the solution. Thanks! :)

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