Working More Effectively: How an A5 notebook turned my business around

One of the biggest problems with working online is the constant temptation to be distracted by stuff, usually emails about the "Latest this, that or other" that you really should have to "Supercharge" your business.

Earlier this year I found myself spending (wasting) more time looking at other peoples sites, products and offers that "might" be useful to me than I was on doing the real work that my business needed.

The result was twofold, first my business wasn't moving forward anywhere near as fast as I wanted, and second I would end up feeling very frustrated at the end of the day, feeling like I hadn't got anything valuable done that day.

How did I fix it?

Simple.

I got a small (A5) notebook to keep on my desk that I use to track everything I do each day, I call it my "daily tasks" notebook, although I'm sure it should have a more inspiring nickname with the results it's given me.

I also keep a seperate "master list" of the stuff I need to get done over the coming month (with some target dates), and at the end of each week update it so that the stuff I want to get done the following week is at the top, in order of importance.

The last thing I do each day is add two items to the top of the next day's page in the daily tasks notebook.

The first is something that's real quick and easy to do. The purpose of this item is to help get me started on the right track at the start of each day and to start the "momentum" for the day.

The second item I add is the thing that I most want to put off or avoid, the one thing that is, in my mind, going to be hardest to do, although it seldom turns out that way once I've actually started it.

Having completed the first item, it makes it a lot easier to go straight in to the second item.

I'll then make sure the third "to do" item is something that is actually going to move my business forward in some way and make a positive difference to my earnings.

Only once I've got all three of those done will I open my email and see what's new for the day.

If I only get those three items done, I know it's been a worthwhile day, but normally, having completed those, I've got enough "momentum" that I'll end up getting a lot more done.

I do still have days where I feel frustrated at not having accomplished enough, but having that daily list to look back on at the end of the day (or week) helps to remind me what I have achieved. It often makes the difference between me feeling like the week has been a washout and feeling that I've got somewhere...

And don't be scared to put the small things on the list, like a 15 min call with someone, whether it's business related or not. You have to remember that a even a 5 min call actually eats up more of your time than the 5 mins, because it will take you another 5 mins to get back in to focus on what you were doing before the interuption.

It also helps to see where your time has gone each day and help you see what you need to cut down on, outsource or find a better way of managing.

Here's a couple of extra bits I find useful: -

1. I have two large "White Boards" on my office wall, one of which I use for my "master to do" list with target dates. I don't update it until the end of the month so I can see what progress I've made.

2. Parkinson's Law. Not sure where I read this one, probably Tim Ferris' great book: The Four hour Work Week, but it says something like "A task will swell in complexity and difficulty according to the time allocated to complete it." I've found this to be very true. If I set a very tight deadline for a project, it somehow seems easier to get done.

3. This one is probably also from Tim's book. Twice a day, at pre-set times, I ask myself whether I am just being "busy", or whether what I am doing actually has real value to my business. This is a great eye opener when you've just spent the last hour or so looking at other peoples latest "must have" offer.

Let me know if there's something you are particulary interested in..

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