One of the reasons the KashFlow office will never be paperless is because of the many To Do lists to be found on my desk. I’m aware there are plenty of web apps out there for this kind of thing, including Remember the Milk which lots of people rave about. But for me, nothing beats the portability and speed of access of a small notebook.
Besides the obvious function of making sure you don’t forget things, To Do lists are really useful in a number of other ways.
If you’re anything like me then your mind skips all over the place and you often find browser windows open on web pages you’d started reading but forgot about because you got distracted. Having a To Do list, along with a bit of discipline, really helps me to focus on what I should be doing.
Sense of achievement
Quite often you can work a solid 8-10 hours, get to the end of the day and feel like you’ve not achieved much. Especially if you’ve been doing lots of small tasks. Looking at a page of crossed out items you’ve achieved that day helps dispel that notion and can help boost your spirits.
A great (small) book about To Do lists is Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog (Amazon, £5.99). The “frog” is the item on the To Do list that you’ve been avoiding as you really don’t want to do it. Tracy’s suggestion is that you should do those things first – eat those frogs – because you’ll then know that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll have to do that day and you can crack on with everything else. It’s worth a read if you suspect you might not be spending your time as productively as you could be.
I’m not sure that eating frogs in the morning is the best thing to do. Another way of prioritising your to do list is to ask yourself which of the items is going to have the biggest impact on your business or is going to get you closer to your strategic goals. Ordering a new coffee machine might be what you want to do right now, but wouldn’t your time be better spent returning that important phone call?
With that in mind, I’ve just looked at my To Do list and realised writing this blog post isn’t a high priority.