I’ve always been an organized person and I’m a bit to-do list obsessed, which has come in handy as I’m building One For Women. Some people think that the trick to building a successful business or career is being really smart, but I’m convinced it’s having good time management skills. We’re all busy, but if you can master getting sh*t done, you’ll accomplish more and be seen as someone who makes it happen, not someone who’s trying to figure out how to manage. So how do I make it all work? Here are my top tips for checking off that to-do list:
- Choose one thing per day. Someone actually gave me this piece of advice when I started One For Women and I thought they were losing it. How was I going to build a business if I only did one thing per day? That made no sense to me. Desperate for any guidance I could receive, however, I tried it and I’ve never looked back. Here’s the thing – if you focus on one thing per day, it’ll free up your mind to get more done. Start your day off by completing whatever that one thing is – and I like to make it one of my bigger, harder tasks that perhaps I’ve been avoiding. By only picking one task each day, my mind is more focused so I get that task done quicker and more efficiently. Then, I find that I feel so accomplished once I’m done (hey, I did the ONLY thing I needed to do today!) that I approach my to-do list with a renewed sense of energy and motivation, which helps me get more things done each day beyond that one thing. So basically it’s a mind game. But it works!
- Batch work. I didn’t have a clue what this was until I left my corporate job and started One For Women, but now I can’t imagine working any other way. Simply, batching work is focusing on only one type of work for a large chunk of time. So for example, I might work on the blog on Monday, choosing products on Tuesday, podcast interviews on Wednesday, and so on. I’ve tried batching work both in chunks of hours (usually 4-hour increments), days (so a different focus each day) and even weeks (website this week, product selection next week). For me, changing it up each day makes the most sense, but it will really depend on your specific work projects. Why is batch working so successful? Because it allows you to focus on the same type of work without your mind jumping all over the place, and that makes you more efficient. Batch working for the win!
- Block your calendar. I started this habit when I was in my corporate job, because if I didn’t, meetings would overrun my days. At the beginning of each week, I would look at my to-do list and then block out certain times on my calendar to work on those projects (and going back to #1, I would usually block out a large chunk of time in the morning to work on my “one” thing for the day!). Although I might adjust these hours if I absolutely needed to, I generally tried to honor this time and decline meetings that were scheduled during those hours so that I could actually get my work done. That’s easier said than done depending on how high up the food chain you are, but if you start getting into the habit now, you may find that slowly, over time, those blocks on your calendar are respected.
- Figure out when you work best. Shortly after I quit my corporate job I read a book by Michael Breus called “The Power of When” that talks all about the best times of day to do certain things (work, sleep, exercise, sex) based on your chronotype. I learned that I’m a bear and adjusted my daily schedule accordingly. Now I know that my most optimal work time is 9-2 so I make the most of that block. Learning when I’m most productive, most social and most creative has been a game changer because it allows me to make the most of my talents and skillsets when they are most likely to be at their optimal each day. Even if you don’t buy into this idea of chronotypes or want to read his book, start paying attention to what times of day you do certain things at and how you feel at those times. Test out switching things up to see what works better. Even if you don’t have a lot of flexibility in your schedule, try to find small ways you can optimize your schedule to fit your personality and personal productivity cycles.
- Have a really good system. I’ve had moments in my life where I feel like I’m spending more time managing the actual list for my to-do list than I am checking the tasks off. It’s taken me a long time but I finally have a really good system that I rely on. It’s different for everyone so you have to figure out what works for you – online vs. paper, complex vs. simple, app vs. website – but once you do, it’ll make all the difference. Me personally? I track my personal to-dos using Todoist and my business to-dos using Monday.com. I keep both on my computer and phone, and I check in with them weekly and daily to plan out my days. They’ve both been game-changers!
It’s so easy these days to get overwhelmed with the to-do list, so implementing a few small changes that maximize productivity and efficiency and minimize stress can make a huge difference. What are some of your tricks for getting more do