Use a Daily “To-Do” List! by Cindy Rushton

The image “http://www.cindyrushton.com/images/Cindy2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.A few years ago, I read a book with my children for a homeschool unit study that we pursued during the last four years of my son’s school years. That study continues on even though he graduated over 4 years ago. 😀

I know, I know.

It was a study that took on a life of its own. It began with a simple biography about a great businessman. We continued through as many biographies as we could find. We STILL pursue these studies even though my son graduated almost 4 years ago!

What’s the point? Oh! This is a good one!

We read one book about Mary Kay. You always learn so much when digging into the lives of others. One of the life-changing things that I learned from her life was from one thing that she attributed to her success–her daily to-do list. Daily, she kept a list of 5 things to do for the day. Each day the list changed. She wouldn’t list the impossible. She just plugged away each day on 5 vital things.

I pondered that for a while. I knew that my biggest struggle was having bigger plans than I have hours to work on them. I decided to pray for my daily “5 things” for the day. I get everything dumped into my “Little Black Book.” I brainstorm and break things down until they are in bite-size pieces that can be done in just minutes. Then, I go through and pick the things that need to be done first. I make them reasonable and do-able. I add them to my daily schedule. Things get done!

Remember that saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time?” How do you get things done? One “to-do” at a time!

Talk about a great secret for getting and staying focused! It would even work if you had ONE thing for the day or three things for the day. The point is to not miss one day where you intentionally plan in one thing that helps you move forward. It can take 5 minutes or an hour. It is just something that helps you to move forward. It is SO essential!

First, it keeps us from going day-after-day never getting “anything” done. You know that feeling? It comes from a lack of purpose and direction. You cannot get things done if you are not clear about what needs to be done. You have to know which way to go or you will probably sit still.

Also, it clarifies everything.
It clears your brain and keeps you focused on how you will get things done. You can clearly see a step that you can do. It is clear. It is doable. That clarifies everything!

Keeping a journal with all of the stuff on your heart for the year is great–it is one of my biggest secrets to getting LOTS done. But, I hear all of the time from friends who share with me that writing down the ideas and brain-dumping is where they stopped. They get so frustrated because they cannot fit things into their life. Days go by. Weeks go by. Months go by. Years go by. Still in debt. No books written. House is still a mess. On and on. Their journal becomes a nag. It condemns them.

It can be frustrating if you do not have a plan for getting all of that in motion. It can be so frustrating that you either think that it is impossible or that YOU are the only one who cannot get things done. There is nothing worse than having lots of goals, dreams, and desires, but seeing them SIT there in your little black book for years and years without a plan to make them happen.

The answer? “To-Do” lists, of course!

Then, we can look at our daily schedule and add into our daily schedule our 5 things for the day or, if you are just getting started, just one thing “to-do” to work toward our goal or our project. In fact, maybe this might be key for some of you. 5 things look completely overwhelming to you? Just choose one thing to do each day.

So, what ONE THING can you do TODAY?
One thing can make a difference! We can all fit ONE THING into our daily schedule.

Now, I am not saying that your ONE THING should be “clean the house” or “write a book.” NOT! That can be a big problem!

Having a thing to do that is made up of many, many other things/tasks is not brainstormed and broken down enough. To just say, “Clean the house” as your thing “to-do” almost always insures that it will go from day-to-day undone. at minimum, you will never “feel” like you are getting anything accomplished. That because it is not broken down into things “to do” that you can manage and SEE each day as you can fit them into your day.

“Cleaning the house” or “Writing a book” are GOALS or PROJECTS. Those need to be broken down into small, small tasks that you can do. For example, if you want to write a book, the first thing you will need is your topic. So, how about taking 20 minutes today to brainstorm for your topic–write down all of the ideas for what you would like to write about. Just dump it all down on a page in your journal. Want to clean your house? Same thing. Brainstorm out all that needs to be done. Get them out of your brain and on paper (preferably into an Idea Notebook so you don’t LOSE your ideas!!).

Feel good? YES! That is a simple thing to do. It is part of the process. It is a very VITAL part of the process. That will get you moving forward and out of your rut. That will give you tasks that CAN fit into even YOUR day!

Now, quick note! You may not know all of the things that you need to do in order to reach your goals. That is where you get a mentor, a coach. That is where you invest in a book or a class to teach you how. I am not saying to hit EVERYTHING on your life-list. I am saying focus on ONE THING. Give it your entire focus as you get down the process. Learn what needs to be done to make it happen. Get busy. (Quick note! If you want to be a writer, I am working on a course to take you through all of the steps. I am also going to offer personal coaching for several key areas for writers. Stay tuned! It is going to be the ULTIMATE course! More on that very, very, very soon! :))

After I brainstorm all that needs to be done, I try to add at least ONE THING per day from my journal into my schedule, even if it is a little thing. My personal goal is to work on 5 things per day. I try to balance those from things that I am working on for different aspects of my home and business. Of course, there are days that I have to be realistic and limit myself to the demands of the day. I am OK with that when I have hope that I will not put off the heartbeats for years to come.

Adding them into my “5 things” regularly helps. Also, on those days that I am blank or that I happen to have some extra time to myself, I go through my journal and work through some of the simple tasks that I can attack and conquer.

It works great! I get SO MUCH MORE done each day…each week…each year. Now, I am seeing those books finished that were dreams years ago. I am able to pursue those business dreams and make them a reality. We even beat debt a few years ago–same principle! We hit it bit-by-bit adding it to our list of things for the week. Lists get things done!

Oh! On those days that I have 25 things to choose from…you know that those days pop up constantly, don’t you? I am having one of those weeks this week. Well, during those times, I have a secret that may help some of you who are battling with just TOO MUCH to do–I pull out my Post-it notes. I love the Post-it notes that are around 5X7 and lined. I write my whole list on them. Then, I post the note on my daytimer. As I get things done, I mark them off and journal them in my planner on the day that I finished them.

I know what helps me the most–I NEED to mark things off and see things getting done, especially on those “25 THINGS TO DO” kinda days.

Each day, I will go through them as I plan my next day. I jot my top five for the day into my Daily Planner (I call mine my BRAIN-IN-A-BINDER :)). I keep the “Post-it” on the opposite side of page (I use a planner that has the Daily To-Do’s and a Daily Appointment Schedule on the left side of the notebook and Daily Notes on the right side of the notebook. I just post my “Post-It Note” on the right side. That way it is right there in my face all day. If I get more than my BIG GOAL of 5 things completed, I mark them off and work on more. I just jot them down on the Daily To-Do list and mark them off there and on my Post It note. At the end of the day, if I have finished my big list on my Post It note, I leave it on the right side of the page. That lets me know everything on that task is done and when I finished it. Then, on to the next big project! Is this clear as mud?

Special note… I have some things that I do over and over that have a huge list of things that need to be done–set up a website, set up an online study, work on a book, write articles, etc. They once had a cute little “Post-It Note.” Since I do them over and over and over, I have set up a permanent checklist that has been tweaked into a system that make it easier to complete that project. Talk about simplifying the process!

All I have to do is print out my checklist again. Put the project name at the top of the page. And, start working on that checklist each day until that project is complete. I have those tasks broke down into very quick and easy things to do. I have worked through them so many times that they are tweaked to a perfect order and everything that I need to remember to do is included. Talk about DESTRESSING big jobs! That is how I recently sponsored the largest online homeschool convention ever. In fact, it was almost as large as the largest state homeschool conventions. I was able to do it this year with my lists from last year. Since I have it tweaked even more, next year I can hire helpers to help me get it all done! That is where we are going! Over time, using to-do lists gets easier and easier. You can do bigger and bigger projects. Plus, you CAN use your lists over and over too!

Give it a try! Take time today to brainstorm. Brainstorm until you get a nice list of do-able tasks that help you get busy on the projects that have only been on your heart until now. Then, plug them into your schedule this week.

There is nothing quite like moving forward. A daily “to-do” list will help you move forward and stay focused. Give it a try! This year will be your best year yet!

Like this? Have you seen my blog?  This was a post in FROM MY HEART on my blog. Why not grab a big cup of tea and check it out today? Here is the link: http://www.CIndysDesktop.com

About CindyRushton

Writer, Speaker, Actress, Biz & life coach, Empty-nester, Mimi, RVer, God-crazy!!

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