What to Do About To-Dos

Do you have a to-do list? If so, how often do you get everything crossed off your list? As a business owner or leader, you likely find that your list gets longer rather than shorter as the week progresses. Based on my experience, I offer the following suggestions on what to do about to-dos.

The Difference Between Rocks, To-Dos, and Issues

If you struggle with timelines and prioritization with your to-do list, maybe some of the tasks shouldn’t be to-dos. Maybe they’re actually issues or Rocks. Once you clearly understand the difference between to-dos, issues, and Rocks, you’ll start crossing things off faster than you could ever imagine.

During an EOS® session with my clients, we begin by setting our larger overall goals for the quarter or year. Then the leadership team assigns each goal to a specific person on the team to ensure they get done.

After setting the overall goals, we dedicate much of the day to solving issues. While issues don’t necessarily mean problems, they do require some resolution. The path to resolution can come in the form of a Rock, short-term issue, long-term issue, or to-do.

We outline the differences between these types of initiatives below:

1. Rocks

These are a priority that will take more than three weeks but must be completed this quarter. The company and each leadership team member should focus only on the most important things to accomplish in a quarter. Remember – less is more!

2. Short-Term Issue

A short-term issue will need to get solved this quarter and should go on your weekly Level 10 Meeting™ agenda’s Issues List.

3. Long-Term Issue

Long-term issues don’t need to get solved this quarter, but you don’t want to lose them. Placing these on the Issues List on your Vision/Traction Organizer® keeps them out of your mind for now. And then you can return to them each quarter to review.

4. To-Do

To-dos must get done in the next seven days, and someone commits to completing them. The Level 10 Meeting agenda designates a time to follow up on each to-do from the prior week, driving accountability.

*Pro Tip: If your to-do will take longer than a week (but shorter than three weeks), then chunk it. Scope a to-do for what you’ll accomplish in one week. Then pick up the next section the following week, and so on until you complete the full task.

Organize and Prioritize

When determining where a task or issue should live, assess the time for completion and level of importance toward achieving company goals. The term “Rocks” comes from a popular story of unknown origin shared by Stephen Covey in First Things First.

By organizing tasks into Rocks, short-term issues, long-term issues, and to-dos, you’ve made the first step toward completing them. Leaders tend to have trouble prioritizing. As the business owner, every task feels important – and it is.

However, as you know, trying to do everything yourself often means you get very little done. EOS® offers clear guidance to help lay out a timeline for tasks and encourages thinking outside the box. Leaders need to ask the bigger questions about who’s best suited to own a task and at what level (department versus company).

To help further break down and prioritize your to-do list, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Who does this task affect (i.e., just you, your clients, your business, or your team)?
  2. What outcome will completing this task achieve? Will you gain a new customer, earn more revenue, or get a project done ahead of schedule?
  3. What happens if the task isn’t completed? Will you lose clients or revenue or miss deadlines? What domino effects (if any) could this uncompleted task cause?
  4. Does it need to get done now? Does this task hold us back or get in the way of achieving our goals?

The answers to these questions help you decide which tasks come first, allowing you to crush your to-do list. Then you can really get traction toward those bigger goals!

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