Don't MAKE the List ... DO the List
Too much energy is consumed on making the list.
There is something gratifying about jotting down all the things you need to do. It quenches one’s thirst for being organized and for wanting some control over one’s life generally complicated by too many things to do with insufficient time and financial resources to do them.
When we complete the list we feel that we have accomplished something.
The longer the list, the more pleased we feel as the long list represents mastering the translation of our complicated and ever changing personal world into concrete terms.
We spend considerable time making the list and managing the list when changes are required.
Frequently we lose the list.
Occasionally we are unable the decipher items on the list due to the abbreviated language we use to “save time” making it.
And list making teaches a bad habit, namely that if you write an action plan down it will happen.
We all know this is delusional thinking. The list is never completed the way it was originally conceived yet we continue to pour our energy into making the list knowing (hopefully) that it is a draft at best.
It’s time to change the list dynamic from MAKING the list to DOING the list. I know it’s called a To Do list, but it’s realły a statement of intent: “(I intend)To Do” is the common interpretation of what the list means however the “Do” action piece normalły gets short shrift.
It’s time to rid ourselves of good intentions; cut back on the time spent on creating the list and increase the time spent on DOING it.
The list is an imperfect “creature” anyway; it will never be 100% complete. Tomorrow something will come up that will render the list or a portion of it irrelevant. And the list will have to be revised.
Here are some quick-hit suggestions to DO the list.
1. Think short term. What absolutely must get done in the next 7 days? If you think beyond the next week you allow intentions to guide the list, you waste time and DO nothing.
2. Limit the list to not more than 3 things. You can’t DO more and if you think you can, you are falling victim to intentions.
3. Allocate the 3 DO items to the 7 days you have available. Space them out; don’t cram them in to one or two days where time constraints could impair your ability to execute.
4. Don’t allocate the full 7 days to your DO items. Leave some spare time to deal with temporary unexpected events (which will always happen) that distract you from your list.
5. Stay focused and avoid multitasking. “Get-one-done; move-on-to-the-next” is the formula for DO. Some argue that sequential action is unimaginative; perhaps, but it gets things done.
6. When an item on the list is done, strike it off but don’t replace it with anything. This could jeopardize the remaining item(s). You are on a 7-day DO cycle; new items will be listed at the start of the next cycle.
7. Develop the next list at the end of the 6th day. Carry over incomplete tasks if they are still a high priority. Incorporate what you have learned from DOING in the current cycle.
I Have A Brand And It Haunts Me
I was talking to my pal “Jonas” who recently decided to freelance (vs building a multi-consultant business) when he left a bigger firm to do his own thing.
Jonas is a global talent guy who works across the planet for some of the world’s most well known companies. He decided his best play—the one that would allow him to focus on what he loves most and live the life he’s planned—is to freelance for other firms.
His plan got off to a bit of a rocky start because—get this—none of the firms he approached believed he’d actually want to “just” freelance. He’d earned his rep by steadily building deep, brand name client relationships, practices and business, not by going off by himself as a solo.
Or as he put it “I have a brand and it haunts me.”
We both had a good belly laugh because he was already rolling in new projects, thrilled with his choice to freelance.
And yet, isn’t that the truth?
Good, bad, indifferent—our brands DO haunt us.
They whisper messages to those in our circle “trust him, he’s the bomb”, “hire her for anything creative as long as your deadline isn’t critical”, “steer clear—he talks a good game but doesn’t deliver”.
And thanks to social media, those messages—good and bad—can accelerate faster than you can imagine. One client, one reader, one buyer can be the pivot point that takes your consulting business to new territory.
So how do you deal with it?
Yep—you go for more of what comes naturally. In Jonas’ case, he stuck with what he’s known for—his work, his relationships, his track record for integrity—and won over any lingering skepticism about his move.
We weather the bumps in the road by staying true to who we are at our core.
So when a potential client says “Sorry, you’re just too expensive for me”, you don’t run out and change your prices. Instead, you listen carefully and realize they aren’t the right fit for your particular brand of expertise and service.
When a social media troll chooses you to lash out at, you ignore them and stay with your true audience—your sweet-spot clients and buyers.
And when your most challenging client tells you it’s time to change your business model to serve them better, you listen closely (there may be some learning here) and—if it doesn’t suit your strengths—you kiss them good-bye.
If your brand isn’t haunting you, is it really much of a brand?
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