Business leaders have a lot to do. The number of tasks that need to get done keeps expanding, and as a result the To Do list grows and grows. Some people manage tasks through sticky notes, some use technology tools such as Asana or Trello, while others use hand-written lists of stuff they need to get done.
There are a lot of ways to manage tasks, but the majority of us are still overwhelmed by our To Do list. Here’s what I experienced when I took the helm of running our 3rd generation family business.
How Not to Tackle Your To-Dos
When I took the helm of our family business, I was eager to make a difference and leave a lasting impact. I began to diligently capture all the things I wanted to get done. I put together a detailed agenda and brought the rest of our leadership team together every week with the intention of making a dent on the list.
We would often get into heated debates, lose track of time, and ultimately add more stuff to the list. To feel like we accomplished something, we would quickly glance at the list one last time to see what we could tackle that was quick and easy. Before we knew it, the list became a spreadsheet that printed a grand total of 14 pages! To say I felt overwhelmed is an understatement!
Even early on in my journey as an EOS Implementer, I found myself building lengthy lists of stuff that I needed to do. I would carry multiple lists around with me, and add to them as things came up. I didn’t manage it well at all.
And then I learned the importance of compartmentalizing.
Four Compartments That Reduce To-Do Stress
This was HUGE for me. I learned that there are only four compartments to put stuff in, and once I began to manage everything within those four compartments, it wasn’t so overwhelming.
The four compartments are:
These are one-year priorities. They are three to seven of the most important things that need to be done over the next year to move your business forward.
Rocks are 90-day priorities: the three to seven most important priorities that your company needs to be focused on so that you’ll be on track to accomplish your goals for the year.
These are seven-day action items. Typically, To Dos are assigned to various people in your weekly meeting, and they’re always due by the next week’s meeting.
There are two types of issues:
- Long term issues—These are all those ideas, opportunities, obstacles, and problems that are important, but can wait to be dealt with after the current 90-day period. These belong on your long term Issues List.
- Short term issues—These are the issues that need to be dealt with WITHIN this 90-day period, and they should be on your weekly meeting Issues List (using your Level 10 Agenda).
Living and Leading without the Growing To-Do Lists
Everything on the action item list could ultimately be sorted into one of these four compartments. By running effective meetings and systematically using these four compartments, we stayed on top of everything! When a new idea or action item would come up, we always asked which compartment it belonged in. Simply posing that question would help us to compartmentalize WHEN we should tackle it. Just because something is brought up now doesn’t mean it needs to be solved today!
Using the four compartments will free up your time—you’ll have a place for everything and everything will be in its place. You’ll eliminate the need for multiple sets of sticky notes and places to keep track of everything. No more 14-page action item lists! And you’ll get ahead of the overwhelm.