If you have a type A personality, you likely enjoy your to-do list. The problem is that we all end up with a huge list that never seems to end. I often found myself stressed out thinking that I wasn’t accomplishing anything as I dove through my to-do list. Without structure, we’re doomed to burn out and feel defeated with our lack of productivity. Here I’ll go through what I do to keep myself organized and sane. I’ve found that I’m the most stressed out when I forget and decide not to start and work through my week without my routine.
I always make sure to never plan meetings on Monday unless it’s something that’s important and I can’t get out of. Mondays are meant for easing into the week and planning out my to-do’s.
UPDATE: Check out my most recent article where I automate this process!
I first start off by inbox zeroing my email. You can learn how to archive your emails in Gmail with this article. Oddly enough, not having emails in my inbox gives me great peace of mind. I’ve started to do this on Fridays as well to allow my mind to enjoy the weekend. You’ll now know that every email that is unread is important. It’s also helpful to occasionally unsubscribe to any junk mail that you may have acquired in the past.
Most people will want to go through all of their emails to get to inbox zero. This makes you give priority to which emails came first rather than importance. Think of each email as a task that someone is adding into your to-do list. You wouldn’t prioritize a task just because someone told you to so why do that with your emails?
To-Do on Trello
I have a Trello board that helps me prioritize my tasks. You can learn about the basics of Kanban boards here. For each email, I create a card with an action item that relates to the email. For example, it could be “Respond to Joe,” “Process invoices” or “Send Tommy pitch deck.” I want to be able to get all the details so I copy the email URL and add it into my Trello card. That way I can refer back with ease and not have to search for it again.
Weekly Bulleted Notebook
Each week I’ll write out Monday through Friday. For each day, I bring in any events or meetings I have that day. It allows me to figure out which open blocks of time I have left for deep work. As entrepreneurs, we have to switch from a maker’s schedule to a manager’s schedule multiple times throughout the day. This organization helps me swiftly move between the two.
TIP: I like to batch my meetings into a specific day of the week so that I have time on other days to accomplish deep work. For example, Mondays are for organizing. Tuesdays are for team calls and Thursdays are for meetings. This is also helpful because it makes you choose only the most important meetings to take since you only have one day that week dedicated for it.
After going through my to-do list on Trello, I’m able to move my cards from high to low priority. I then fill in my bulleted notebook with my top tasks. It may take you some time to estimate how long tasks take at the beginning but after doing this for a while, you’ll know what you can accomplish in the time slots you have leftover.
Why It Matters
You often hear that you need to take time to celebrate small accomplishments. Having your tasks planned out lets you feel ok with taking a break once you’re done with the day’s tasks. This matters because you’ll start to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the week. Having your “Done” column in your Trello board lets you visually see what you’ve done all week. Burning out from trying to accomplish too many tasks each day doesn’t help anyone. You’ll be more productive by being balanced. I say it all the time and I’ll say it again.
Your company is only as sustainable as you are.