Are you a "To-Do List" junkie? Go ahead, no judgment here. You can admit it. Whether you use Post-it® notes or a sheet of paper, if you are writing down your to-dos, I applaud you. Why? Holding information in your short-term memory taxes your mental capacity. It is always better to capture your thinking for quick reference and free up your brain to focus on completing tasks. The problem with long to-do lists or a desktop covered in Post-it® notes is that it overwhelms your mind and creates stress.
The human brain optimally functions when presented with no more than three inputs. As a result, selecting up to three priorities each day is cited as increasing productivity and outcomes achievement. Responding daily to the question, "What are the most important things I can do today to move my business forward?" and limiting your efforts to three essential tasks, is a powerful success habit to adopt.
Here's my process. I use a virtual Post-it® note app to keep track of my action items, which is pictured here.
With a little bit of thought, I created categories with my notes (sales, marketing, financials). I also capture thinking about more extensive projects such as Website/SEO that have no urgency, but need my attention when I have available time. Using this system releases me from the stress and anxiety of staring down a big to-do list. I know what is important at this moment and focus on those limited things. Everything else is just a mental placeholder until I move it to my priorities list.
One more tip. Decision fatigue is real - decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making (Wikipedia). Thinking about your priorities when you are mentally fresh, typically the beginning of the day, significantly reduces the potential for erroneous thinking.
If you do not practice this prioritization process, I invite you to try it for the next three weeks and then let me know what differences you experience.
If you are newly finding this series, click the links below to catch up on the first two installments.
For an overview of the entire series, watch this short video.