wolfsong

The Return to Juggling Butterflies

Jennifer Bradshaw

Any business owner (especially one that's built their business from the ground up on their own) will tell you that there is a ton of to-do items when it comes to building a business.

I'm in that spot, back to the world of juggling butterflies, which I wrote about in a previous blog post. Granted, I've gotten some of the big, scary projects out of the way this week, but I'm still left feeling like all that I'm juggling is flying away from me before I can send it in the right direction.

how to get on top of your to-do list

I know I'm not the only one that feels like this, and this crazy-making sensation isn't limited to entrepreneurs and business owners. I've had paid jobs where this kind of craziness and lengthy to-do lists were the norm.

So, how can this be handled to preserve your sanity (and mine)?

Here's what I have found works for me:

  • Make a list and then let it go. Write it all out. Every step, every piece to that project. List it out, reorder it so it makes sense. Even the stuff that you're so far off of being ready for. Write. It. All. Down. Then sit back, look it over, and let go of getting it all done. Now, that doesn't mean you're going to forget about it, or that it'll magically get itself done. You're going to work on it, but you aren't going to look at that whole mess every day. I have an app on my tablet where I track all the "I want to's" and as I finish one step, I move then next into my to-do list.
  • Know your personal values. What is most important to you? Health? Education? Getting out of debt? Know your top 5 values, and stick to them. If anything on your list doesn't support at least one of those values, or another project that supports one of those values, cross it off. Now you can forget about that. When I'm getting overwhelmed, I go back to my list of values and clean up the list, getting rid of whatever does not support my top 5.
  • Pick the top 2 projects that you absolutely must get done. Just two. Nothing else on that list needs your attention. Right now, my top two are my content calendar and email (both cleaning my inbox out, and setting up the templates for my mailing list). Nothing else on my list gets my attention until those two things are done.
  • Order the steps you need to perform to finish these projects.1-5, 1-10, 1-whatever. Start at the bottom and work your way through. "This must be done before I can do that." Simple stuff.
  • Block out time in your day - and set it aside for these projects. Now, this is easier when you work on your own schedule, but it works when you have a J-O-B, too. Set aside one or two hours a day, set a timer, and focus on just one project. That's the only thing getting your attention for that block of time. This means: Turn off your social media, your phone, and your games. The only thing you're paying attention to at this time is that project. I personally like the app Goal-O-Matic, as it uses the Pomodoro method of 25 minute blocks of work and 5 minute breaks and I can reorder my to-do list as needed.
  • Start at step number 1 and work on that until it's finished. Take your breaks and get up to stretch, then come back and continue working. 
  • Celebrate each completion! You aren't just plowing through any old to-do list. You are working through things that you want to get done, because they are meaningful to you and what you value. But heck! Even if you're only doing what your boss wants you to get done, you've still managed to find several minutes of focus, and you got something done. Go you!

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