The Best List Making & Productivity Hack Ever!

I am really excited about what I am about to share with you, and could no longer wait to put pen to paper so to speak. But first, if you haven’t read Eat That Frog, you absolutely must go to Amazon right now and buy it. Done? Go do it. I should take a picture of my copy…it is LITTERED with stickies and notes. Few pages don’t have passages highlighted. It’s amazing.

This is where the tweak on my current list making system comes from, and it’s making a big difference. In the same way Sprint went deeper on Scrum, this technique is taking my to-do list to the next level.

Here’s How It Works:

  1. Grab Trello, or a piece of paper. I prefer Trello of course. Create the following columns, from left to right: MASTER. MONTHLY. WEEKLY. DAILY. QA. DONE.
  2. Take as much time as you need and dump everything on all your to-do lists into MASTER. Put stuff in there you have no plan to do for months. It doesn’t matter. Mere ideas can go in here too.
  3. I recommend taking this next step at the end of the month, but you can start whenever. I didn’t wait myself. I am using Trello, so forgive me for speaking directly to what I use…it’s transferable though! Drag what you want to get done this month, or the coming month into the MONTHLY column. Normally you’d do this on the last day of the month.
  4. As you might have guessed, do the same with WEEKLY. Drag what you want to accomplish that week or the coming week. I like to do this every Sunday.
  5. And finally, drag what you want to accomplish today, or the coming day into DAILY. I’ll do this after dinner usually, while I am planning the next day.
  6. QA (quality assurance/checking) and DONE are pretty self-explanatory.

Couple Rules of Thumb:

  • Invite someone to review your list daily. Someone you respect, and you’d feel like shit if he/she caught you slacking, or doing the wrong things.
  • Sort your lists by priority. The first item should be the task that is going to make the biggest impact on you, your work and your family. There may be a couple of these.
  • Question every task you queue up. “Do I need to do this? Or can it be delegated or eliminated entirely?” You will find about 80% of tasks when you are just starting this strategy fall into these categories. Get rid of ’em ASAP. This is also why we invited someone to look at your lists. They are going to tell you to stop doing dumb shit.
  • DO NOT add stuff same day to your daily list. Don’t do it man! If you can avoid adding items during the week to your weekly column, you’ll be better for it.
  • Beautiful thing about doing this in Trello, you can see all the stuff you do at once…including the stuff you are doing more than once. Those are often the items you need to try and get rid of ASAP!

So why do we do all this? It’s said that 10 minutes of planning can save up to 2 hours of ineffective work on a daily basis. That’s a HUGE chunk of time you could use for face time with your family and friends. We do this to improve our quality of life, but also to further ourselves. The more effective we are, the more value we will bring to our businesses and/or organizations. The more value we deliver, the more money we will put in our pocket, and the greater quality of life we will enjoy.

It’s Basic Shit!

Good luck out there!!

Adam

This post was originally published as a Quick and Dirty Newsletter. Subscribe here!


Originally published at adamgsteele.com on December 15, 2016.