Time-Spend and Done-Lists

It’s easy to work hard, but it’s even easier to create hard work for yourself.

Those days when you’ve been going at it, doing stuff, taking care of business… only to feel depleted at the end, without knowing exactly where all the time went…

“I know I worked hard – I can feel it – but what exactly did I work on?”

It’s an unpleasant experience that constantly keeps us in a state of mild anxiety and worry, because we know we’re exerting ourselves, but we don’t have the certainty that we’re working on the things that matter most.

It creates a feeling of not being in control, of running after the facts instead of being in charge of them.

But there’s an easy fix, in two parts.

First: plan your day in advance.

Identify the important tasks, the ones that drive growth, and block out time for it. Next, select the ‘taking care of business’ tasks, and plan time for that too.

Because if you don’t set out into your day with a clear intention for what must be achieved, you’ll end up reacting to whatever shows up in your todo list, your inbox, or your mind, instead of creating results according to an actual plan.

It’s a small difference in letters, but a big difference in outcome: create vs react.

The second part of the fix is tracking and reviewing, so that you’ll ‘know your numbers’.

That’s why I keep a ‘done-list’ – a record of my activities throughout the day.

It’s the opposite of a todo-list, and it’s a great way to stay on task – and to assess whether or not I did stay on task.

Each time I close for the day, I have a list of tasks executed, telling me exactly where my time went, and whether or not my planning ahead was accurate, or wether it needs adjusting for optimal results.

Todo lists are good – but if they don’t bring you the calm, clarity and control you need, try keeping a done-list for a few weeks, and update it religiously, each time you complete an action (which, yes, includes things like ‘phoned
mum’, ‘having fun on Facebook’ and ‘made&ate lunch’.

You might be surprised at how much time you allow to disappear into procrastination, or activities that *feel* like you’re working, but that actually are nothing more than busywork: maintenance-type tasks, the kind that don’t drive growth.

And once you have clarity and insight on where your time goes, you get to make intentional decisions on how to better spend that ultra-precious resource called ‘your time’.

It might be tempting to say ‘I’m not in control’ or ‘there’s not enough time in the day’, but you’ll find that there is control, and lost of time in the day, when you decide to take control.



Also published on Medium.

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