What did you do today?
Don’t you hate it when someone asks that question and your answer is “I don’t know!”
You inwardly groan. You were sooooo busy. But, uh oh, you can’t remember anything you actually did.
The truth is, we’re all busy. And today, I want to know, what did you do?
There’s no judgment here. You may have totally knocked out the to-do list or maybe you binge-watched Netflix all day. It’s OK. It’s your day and you can do whatever you want.
Sometimes I realize that I have big plans to get lots of things done, and then without even realizing it, the hours slipped past and I have absolutely nothing to show for it. This is especially frustrating when I have a big list, and I know exactly what to do, but the problem is I didn’t do any of it.
Here’s an example: Last week, I sat down at my desk with about five things I absolutely needed to get done.
But before I tackled a single thing on the list, I decided to rearrange the stuff on my desk. I moved stacks of papers, I shelved books. I opened up my computer. I checked email, and then you can guess what happened—I fell head-first into the deep abyss. Everyone arrived home from school and work, and then as we were sitting around the dinner table I got the loaded question: “Hey honey, what did you do today?”
I was working. I mean, I was in my office the whole time, but I didn’t complete a single thing on my priority list. Uh oh.
There were no tiny elves to clean up my mess overnight, so the next day I tried a new strategy. Instead of looking at my list and being overwhelmed, I looked at my list and chose something that was important but not impossible.
Here’s what I needed to get done:
1) Finish 52 Week Blog Series Outline
2) Write weekly blog post
3) Update items in online shop
4) Finish Social Media Calendar
5) Catch up on “Copywriting for Creatives” Course
The 52-week series was the most important thing, but I knew it was also probably going to take me the longest to complete. Once I finished the outline, I’d have to download the image cards, upload the content, flesh out each post individually, and set up a MailChimp campaign. Totally overwhelming! Even though I knew what I had to do, I was having trouble manufacturing the motivation I needed just to get started.
Now, the second thing on my list was just to write a simple blog post. Nothing fancy. I could do that. I have a notebook filled to the brim with blog post ideas. All I needed to do was choose one and start writing—so that’s what I did!
Once I finished, I felt lots of momentum. I was able to finish my 52 Weeks on Identity, and get the other things done too.
Starting with the most important thing can be overwhelming, especially if the most important thing includes lots of steps. You know you might not be able to finish, so why start?
So here’s a new strategy. Do the second most important thing first. Get that done. Feel confident. Move on.
And then tackle that very important thing. Even if you don’t finish, you will have made progress, and best of all you will have crossed off something important on your list.
One note: Some business experts will tell you not to check email first thing in the morning. If you have the discipline for this, then by all means do it. However, I’ve found that if I were to wait until lunchtime, for example, to check my mail I might miss an important reminder from a teacher or a meeting cancelation. Therefore, I begin the day by scanning my inbox for anything important, but I’ve made a new pact with myself not to open up any of the blogs or newsletters on my subscription list. I just make a mental note to come back to the ones I want to read during my lunch break—when I give myself a timed thirty minute window to read through just a few articles—not all of them.