Coaching A Three-Step List Management System

To-do lists are essential for the organized executive. We want a concise overview of the things we need to get done. Too often it turns into a muddy blob of impossibility. There are a few things you can do to keep your lists in top shape.

  • Projects are not tasks. Make sure your to-do lists are actionable tasks. Each list item should be a next step to move the bigger project forward. For example, replace the copier is a project. Research ratings on different models is a next step to move that project forward. Projects do not belong on your to-do lists. You need a separate projects list. It’s an inventory of what’s going on in your world. Your to-do lists support your projects list. Keep them separate.
  • Move the pieces. Replace a completed task with the next step to keep the project moving forward. Do it then, not later. That way you’ll have a living, breathing document that represents everything you could be doing at any time.
  • Scan your lists first thing. Open your to-do lists in whatever note and list management tool you use. I like Evernote for its robust features and beautiful interface. Whether you use a paper notebook or a cloud application, your to-do lists should be a priority to review in the morning, right after your calendar. Yes, even before email!

Michael Shelton is the owner and chief coach of Shelton Business Services, LLC, helping leaders share leadership. How does he do that? He’s coaching executives on best practices for delegation and work-flow management.

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