How to Create and Use To Do Lists in Your Business

How to Create and Use To Do Lists in Your Business

Getting things done in your business is not only a positive thing but it’s essential if you’re going to continue. You’ll no doubt have a list of things you’d like to do, things you know you need to do, and things you must do… and even things you should have done.

Getting the tasks completed on time is the sign of a strong business and keeping in contact with your customers and leads through SalesRadar is made easier with ‘To Dos’.

To do lists are met with many different reactions. Maybe due to the sheer number of ways to create one or the many variations of advice and content surrounding them.

There’s no getting away from it though – your ‘to dos’ need to be done… otherwise, why are they on there in the first place?

We love getting tasks completed and that’s why SalesRadar has them built in to the core of the platform. We also know that ‘to dos’ are useless without action. So here’s some advice on creating and completing your ‘to dos’ each week, and getting more action (and results) as a result.

Choose a platform and stick to it

Welcome to the paradox of choice with to do lists. There are no shortage of apps online and a quick search will show you loads of options. As great as this is, you’ll be overwhelmed very quickly, and this could stop you in your tracks right away.

Remember: The app won’t make you do it, it will just tell you to!

Most of the apps are pretty much the same at the root of them all. Put in your to dos and get reminders and the ability to add content and snooze them.

Sure, you’ll have some that do more, but you’re maybe missing the simplicity of a to do if you’re going for the over-the-top app that syncs with everything you’ve ever heard of and makes things too complicated.

It’s all too much!

Pick something that’s simple and is going to give you the ability to create a list and then action it. It’s that simple… Don’t overcomplicate it.

Keep it simple and usable

Whatever you decide (even a paper diary option) keep it simple and usable. A to do list needs to help you, not add to the woe. If your list is over-complicated and needs a degree to understand it then you’ll be adding to the problem.

Making your list usable is key here. If you can pick it up and use it right away then you will, and you’ll do it more often.

To do list success: It’s all in the detail

Once you’ve decided on the platform you’ll use (app, paper, phone etc) then you’re ready for the part that actually makes it work for you – creating your list and managing it.

A list that’s poorly managed or tough to work with won’t help you so here are some really simple tips to make your to do list work for you not against you.

List everything you need to do

List everything you need to do down in your list. You might choose to work with a list daily, weekly, or even monthly and then refresh it each time. This can be really useful.

Start with everything. Then, one-by-one, work out which of these tasks need to be done now, which ones can wait a little, and which will ‘nice-to-have in the future’ and when that future is.

Now we can start working on this ‘brain dump’ or ideas.

Prioritise tasks

Prioritising your tasks in order of urgency is paramount to the success of your to do list. There’s no point putting a high priority task at the bottom of the list as it won’t ‘get done’ and then your ‘to do list’ has failed.

Be honest!

  • What really needs to be completed first?
  • What’s more important?


Your own marketing could well be more important than client work. That proposal for a new lead is right up there too. What needs to be done now? What can wait?

This stage is important so that you work on your business in a more controlled way in the future and not ‘fire-fighting’ the urgent tasks that you put off until later in front of tasks that didn’t really matter as much.

Break big tasks down

Avoid being vague and avoid putting lots of smaller tasks under the heading of one huge task. This can hide the volume of work involved in your business and also make a rather large piece of work look like ‘just another to do’.

Break the big tasks down like this:

  • The launch event


Becomes:

  • Book the venue
  • Contact the caterers
  • Write the copy for the landing page
  • Create the landing page
  • Create/order the landing page graphics
  • Create the invites
  • Create the email invites
  • Email the guest list
  • Create the Facebook marketing
  • Schedule the Facebook marketing
  • Create the LinkedIn marketing
  • Schedule the LinkedIn marketing
  • Call previous clients and invite
  • Email current clients and invite
  • Check on the venue and caterers


… and so on.

Being specific now means you have a lot more ‘to dos’ on your list and although you might feel like this is now a bigger list, it’s a more workable one and keeps you on track.

You might want to create a whole new list for ‘Launch event’ and then check in on that daily with a to do in your main list to do so. This can sometimes keep your main list more focused.

“How do you eat an elephant? One chunk at a time.”

Approach your to do lists like this by laying out the chunks to eat from the offset: Book the launch even venue, Contact the caterers for the launch event, etc…

Be specific with your ‘to dos’

One failing of many to do lists is that the tasks are too broad. Not only do they mean little to you when you get to them, but they lack direction and then need more thinking when you do get the opportunity to tick something off.

Just as with the launch event example above, be specific with the tasks that you need to complete.

Instead of:

“Email Paul”

Put:

“Email Paul about the launch event graphics.”

Don’t expect your brain to remember it all. By putting the to dos down in details you’ll actually free up some space in your head.

In his book “How to be a Productivity Ninja” Graham Allcott talks about your to do lists becoming a ‘second brain’ and how the space it frees up can lower anxiety and hugely help your focus.

Don’t go for the easy stuff first

As tempting as it is can be to go for the easy wins on your list, don’t do it unless they’re the most urgent and high priority tasks.

Ticking off tasks feels great and it ‘feels’ like you’re getting somewhere, but if this ticking is for tasks that can wait until next week and they’re being ticked ahead of tasks that need to be done now, it’s a false high.

Eat that frog! In his fabulous book “Eat That Frog” Brian Tracey introduced us all to the idea that we should do that big horrible task first ahead of all those smaller easy ones. While we do subscribe to this idea, that’s only a good one if that frog is high on the priority list.

If you keep moving that task, ask yourself why

Ah… the snooze button! There’s a lot of evidence that snoozing your alarm clock in the morning is bad for sleep, not good for it, and we feel that snoozing tasks for too long is bad for business.

Why is it on the list in the first place? If you’re going to keep snoozing it then you might as well delete it! Yes – DELETE it. If you’re only going to move it then why have it on there?

If you’re convinced you need it on your list then ask yourself why you’re not doing it. What does your inaction tell you, and what can you change?

This is a mindset shift, but go with us…

  • You could have a rule where you’re only allowed to move it twice before you do or delete it – an idea we heard at The Planning Circle.
  • You could commit to only giving something a certain amount of time on your list. The 24, 24, 24 rule from Brad Burton states that he makes a decision in 24 seconds, or waits 24 minutes, and then if in 24 hours he’s still not made a decision… he’s made one!
  • Give yourself a deadline. In his entertaining and powerful TED Talk “Inside the Mind of a Procrastinator” Tim Urban talks about the power of a deadline and what happens when there isn’t one.


Your tasks need decisions, they need sensible priorities, and they definitely need a deadline.

Keep the list up-to-date and recent

And then create a new list each day or week. Creating a new list each day or week gives you a really good focus. You’ll be actively working on the list and then at the beginning of the week/day you’ll create the list and set the intention needed to complete the tasks.

Moving tasks is fine and from day-to-day you’ll need to do this, just remember to create a rule to stop you moving the same tasks over and over again.

Keeping the list fresh will focus you and help you to create a deadline for the list, not just the tasks, and that will certainly help you get more done.

And then of course create time to get your to do list. Using your time effectively is a great place to start with this.

SalesRadar gives you the opportunity to add to dos to your contacts to remind them about you, invoice them, send them some information, or whatever it is you need to do for them.

You can get SalesRadar for free right now so grab your free access and start working towards and more efficient sales pipeline.

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