The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say “no” to almost everything.—Warren Buffet
For years I have been making a “to do” list almost every day. Most days I write the items down at the very end of the day, right before bed. This is the normal way for me to think about the challenges and opportunities of the day to come. As I sleep, my subconscious pours over the tasks, and come morning, I likely have clarity on what seemed difficult the day before.
Often when I am in the office, I will write them down as my last task of the day. That helps clear my mind for the day and helps focus me the next morning.
Now, I rarely get all the tasks on my list done in a day. Those not finished move forward to the next list for the next day, and many tasks are moved forward several times before completed. This process has served me well for years and I highly recommend you make out your “to do” list daily. I keep mine in an old-school spiral notebook, and that works well for two main reasons:
1. The tactile act of writing helps put the info into your brain in a way typing it on your computer never will. You will remember and focus better on the info you actually write pen and paper.
2. You can keep it close at hand to scribble a note in, and stay more focused on your current task. There are numerous interruptions in your day, and if you let them, they will overtake your best plans and keep you from what is most important. Urgent is not necessarily important. This way you are making out your to-do list all day long and it is ready to refer to instantly.
By writing your to-do lists in your book you also have a record of what you have worked on recently that got you where you are. It is a helpful reminder for me when there is a disagreement or confusion over just what was to be done.
Now that I have made the case for the “to do” list….let me tell you what I am finding may be even more important! The “stop” list.
Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, yet many of us in business continue to do the same things that are a waste of our time and resources. Often when I ask a customer why they buy from a particular company, I am told, “well we have always given them that business” or “we have been selling brand A for years.” I appreciate consistency, I appreciate loyalty, but just doing it because you always have is not a good answer. Doing things just because we always have extends far beyond the choice of suppliers a well.
I recently visited a company that has one person who still writes every sale down on the green sheets in his old ledger pad. The accounting department in the company is modern, uses the latest computers, and software, but he still writes in the book because he always has. He has to get the info from them, but still writes it down in the “appropriate column.”
This is a total waste of time and energy. Look around and see how many things you do “just because you always have.” Then, STOP IT!