Ditch The To-Do List and Instantly Get More Done


You’ve read about the Pomodoro Technique, the Marinara Technique, the Burrito Principle, the Not to-Do List, and every other system designed for streamlining your day. Still, you resort to the tried-and-true Sticky Notes for organizing your to-dos, and that, too, is a frustrating affair. They either get lost, get smudged or, worse yet,  get ignored as more and more things are added to your plate.

What’s a busy marketer to do?

We feel your pain.

The AuthorityLabs crew is in the same boat. We have a plethora of tools to help order our steps daily, but even with the best laid plans, things quickly go awry when impromptu meetings pop up, a computer malfunctions, that Excel doc we’ve been working on disappears or calls from vendors eat a big chunk out of our day.

Take Back Control Of Your Busy Day By Viciously Guarding Your Time

Trying to control what happens over the course of the day is a fool’s errand, so we resort to managing the outcome of every day. You can do the same.

It begins by throwing out the to-do list and replacing it with the “Stop-Doing List,” a concept first shared by Good To Great author Jim Collins.

Make it work for you by following these simple steps:

  • Using a notepad, track your daily work activities for a week, logging any effort that takes 15 minutes or more of your time.
  • The following weekend, find a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted and begin going through the list with a fine-tooth comb.
  • Beside the things you accomplished each day, write a check; beside the things you worked on but did not complete, write an x; and beside the things that were not related to a task you needed to complete (e.g., checking social media, personal phone calls, etc.), write a circle. (The symbols carry meaning: “✓”=yes; “X”=maybe; “O”= no.)
  • The following week, your job is to eliminate as many circles as possible, which means there will be more ✓‘s and X’s with fewer O’s. (For us, that takes shape as using the drive to the gym or the commute home for personal calls that interrupt our workflow. Also, for some of us it means only checking social media during the first 15 minutes of the day, then at lunch.)
  • Meet with your staff at the beginning of the week and make them aware that you’re taking back control of your day, so emails and phone calls likely won’t be returned immediately and they should come see you if a matter requires “right-now” attention. Also, inform them that, if they add something to your plate, they either need to take something away, by taking on a task you already had on your list, or come up with a solution not requiring your input.
  • Get to work.
  • Execute, assess, repeat.

There is no perfect system when it comes to making your day more productive. We’ve spent far too many hours trying to find the “ideal method,” even reaching out to vendors, friends and former co-workers, in addition to reading books and magazines, for help

The one true consistency we’ve found is you have to take things off your plate to get more done. That alone ensures you’re operating more effectively and, most important, results in far less frustration over the long haul.

We’ve chosen to focus on what must get done instead of what’s possible to get accomplished.

What are your tips for squeezing more out of the day?

About Ronell Smith

I'm digital strategist and content geek who's passionate about helping businesses wade through the B.S. and get the results they desire. I rant often about user experience, PR, SEO, branding, product innovation or content marketing. Otherwise, I'm just a boring nerd who dreams about disruptive innovation, long-form feature writing, nuclear physics, entomology and sniper rifles.

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