I've seen it a 1,000x with creatives.
They've got their fancy planner, their notepads, sticky notes all over the house or their apps to keep a running to-do list of all the things they want to get done each day.
Each morning, they sit down ready to tackle the work and then they get overwhelmed.
There's just so much to do!
So they pick something midway through the list that's fun and looks easy.
Maybe an easy "win" that they can check off their list.
But.....here's the thing...
Checking this little to-do off their list isn't what's going to get them to where they want to be in their career.
It's not the thing that's going to move the needle in their business.
While checking off the items on our to-do lists seems like the whole goal - get 'er done! - it's not.
It's just busy work.
Creating, sticking to and executing a proper to-do list is all about taking you from where you are today and bringing you closer to where you want to be.
So why do so many people fail when it comes to their to-do list?
They're missing this one little strategy:
CATEGORIZE THEN PRIORITIZE
Sounds simple, right? But only the top 10% of creatives have it mastered.
Let's change that.
Grab the worksheet and let's get started.
Write out your to do list. Easy enough, right?
Sometimes when we see things written out staring back at us we realize doing them is no longer important.
The next step in creating a solid and doable to-do list is to categorize everything into the following buckets:
1 - Urgent
2 - Important
3 - Ideal
Breakdown each item on your to-do list into one of these three categories.
A quick trick I use to see how just necessary something on my list is, is to ask myself - How likely will doing this thing bring me to my Bigger Picture Goal?
Continue to do this until all your to-do list items have been categorized.
Take a look at everything that's in the Urgent category - note - not everything can be urgent! - and start prioritizing.
What needs to happen first, second and third.
Now, this is where a lot of creatives get tripped up because we like to prioritize what we like to do over what needs to get done.
If there's a task on your to-do list that isn't urgent but you know that it will get you closer to your Bigger Picture Goal, it goes in the Important category.
Continue prioritizing each category until all three are in order.
Lastly - because I want you to see results - give yourself a deadline for all of the to-do items in your Urgent category and then mark it on your calendar. Treat them like you would an urgent doctor's appt or a business meeting. You wouldn't cancel, you wouldn't try to postpone.
I've studied to-do list strategies for years and this is by far the most simple and effective method for creatives because when our ideas and tasks are in order, we can focus on the creative work at hand and spend less time feeling overwhelmed.
Which is what we all want, right? More time to be creative!