Sorry, But Your 'To-Do' List Needs an Intervention
I’m glad you’re here—please, take a seat. There’s something we need to tell you.
(Pulls out paper from pocket, unfolds it and starts to read.)
All of us here at the Crouch & Associates family love you, and that’s why it’s so important—and so hard—to have this conversation with you. But they said it would be best if we just ripped off the Band-Aid, so to speak, so here goes:
Your "To-Do" list needs to go to rehab. Right now.
Wait, don’t get up! Please sit down and listen. We’re telling you this because we all love you and want you to get the help you need. Here, just listen.
You see, we’ve been watching you fail at "To-Do" lists for a long time. The downward spiral hasn’t been pretty to witness, and we know the feeling of despair and frustration. We’ve all been there.
Take me, for example. I would take a clean sheet of paper on Monday morning and write down as many things as possible—items I wanted to accomplish sometime in the future. The more items on the list, the better the list, right? Sometimes I even used the back of the paper. Big stuff, little stuff, trivial stuff, it didn’t matter. And writing that list was such a big feat that I’d usually take a break afterwards. You know, I earned that break. It wasn’t easy capturing 35 things on a "To-Do" list! I’d cruise the Internet, check Facebook, bother a colleague, call home … all the things we see you do.
Well, then it was finally time to tackle that list. Where would I begin? I wanted some momentum, so I looked for the low-hanging fruit. If my list contained 35 items, I headed to the “26 through 35 Aisle” and knocked off some things in rapid-fire. Wow, look at those checkmarks! I was … what’s the word? Oh, yeah: #Winning. And you know what that meant—time for another break. I mean, it was 11:15 a.m., and technically, lunch was within an hour, so no need to exert myself, right? As soon as lunch was over, I’d really dive into this list, I’d tell myself.
The afternoon. Go time. Let’s roll up these sleeves—wait, better take a selfie and show the social media world I was serious about this list! I’d work hard, dutifully working my way up the list, telling myself that I just needed to clear out these low-level tasks to allow full concentration on the biggest, most important projects on top of my list. I mean, yes, those top few items really defined success for me and my team/organization, and they were often the most urgent and important, since I’d thought of them first. But seriously, those top items take time! And focus! And discipline! And I should really get those other little things done first. Prioritization and delegation were just words I’d heard somewhere else.
The end of the day. All those pretty checkmarks. Except they covered items 11 through 35, and I didn’t really accomplish anything big or valuable. Tomorrow would be different, I’d tell myself. I’d start at the top of the list tomorrow. Except tomorrow wasn’t different. There were more trivial tasks, and of course, there were more distractions. And by the end of the week, none of my “big rocks” were moved. It was like I had the best-looking mailbox in town while my actual house was falling apart.
I knew I needed help, and I found this group called Crouch & Associates. They’re performance consultants, and before you roll your eyes, just wait. They helped me. They gave me this simple tool, called the “Daily High Performance List.”
It’s a pad of paper, and every day is a clean start—one page per day. Notice that this "To-Do" list only contains room for four items! Why’s that? Because most people have the time and capacity to accomplish four significant, organizationally-impactful things per day. And this list won’t let you just write any old thing down. Underneath the task, you have to tell yourself why that item is so important, today. It’s an awesome way of justifying what you’re telling yourself you need to do.
That’s going to be the key to this entire journey, friend: self-accountability.
Notice that the last item says “Personal Task.” That’s because self-care is so important, and most of us don’t prioritize it. You’ve got to invest in yourself and fill your own tank if you have any hope of filling the tank of another person or your organization. Exercise, eat better, sleep more, hug your kids, read a book, fly a kite … do something positive and healthy for you. Why is it important? Because we all want you here for a long, long time.
Just on the other side of this blog is your very own “Daily High Performance List.” All you have to do is walk through that door, I mean, click the button below, and the good people at Crouch & Associates are going to give you your very own list. Are you willing to try it? We promise it will change each day for you and give you the feeling of success you’ve craved so you’ll never go back to the way it was.
So, click the image below to receive your own copy. Go ahead, we can’t wait to see what the new you is like!
A Note From the Editor:
I had the pleasure of meeting up with Scott a couple of months ago. He got to know a little more about NonProfit PRO, and I got to know more about Crouch & Associates. We chatted about all different types of topics in the nonprofit space—including our upcoming peer-to-peer conference, where he will be speaking at. Details here! And during our meeting, he surprised me with my very own "Daily High Performance List."
Now, I will put out a disclaimer that I am a super freak when it comes to "To-Do" lists. It's the first thing I do when I get into the office. I plop into my chair, take a massive sip of coffee and pull out my pen and paper to write down every task I want to accomplish that day. But here's the thing, the list would always—and I mean always—be about 20 or so bullets long. With the most important tasks at the top of the list, but I would always save them for the end of day.
What I really like about this high-performance list is that it narrows down your most important tasks to complete that day, plus it includes one personal task, which is very important to me. It always involves going to the gym or not eating an entire pepperoni pizza to myself. While it's good to be productive at work and take care of work goals, we need to take care of ourselves as well!
Here's my takeaway: Take it one day at a time. You don't have to sit there and write down a million small tasks that you need to get done in one day. Break them down, and prioritize what is important to get done that day. Your brain—and your body—will thank you. Plus your productivity and efficacy will go up.
Scott is the regional director and performance consultant at Crouch & Associates.