Oh the dreaded to-do list. For some, it is our greatest downfall. For others, it is the only thing that brings order to their day. But let’s just admit that writing down what you have to do and then physically crossing off is one of the greatest natural highs out there.
However, if your list is 100 things-strong you are just setting yourself up for failure. Or if you create too many to-do lists you may also find yourself scrambling (do any of your to-do lists have sub-to-do lists?) A to-do list can truly become a very stressful part of your life.
Now you could just give up and run away and join the circus or you could try this hack, courtesy of William Gorfein, the CEO and Chief Strategy Officer at PeerLogix, a New York-based advertising and technology company, focused on OTT, measuring streaming viewership for advertising and media companies. His to-do list trick may just be the one you were looking for.
His biggest productivity hacks
Gorfein starts his morning with his to-do list. “The first thing I do every morning is to write down everything I need to do that day — whether it be meetings, phone calls, tasks, and even errands, like picking up laundry. Then, I sort my to-do list easiest to hardest. I actually do the easiest stuff first. Most people try to conquer the hardest tasks head-on. For me, doing easier things builds my momentum. For example, I take easy phone calls in the morning to get them out of the way and give myself the later hours in the day to focus on heavier lifts.”
Though some studies show that doing the more difficult task first can be effective, there are some major benefits to constructive procrastination. A list in itself can be intimidating so you are just looking for that thing that is going to get you started. Beginning with something easier and less cognitive is going to be more appealing to your brain. He added, “There are always two or three broader long-term goals that can’t get done in a day. As long as I’m moving toward those objectives, I’ll consider a week successful. Client relationships are important, but adding value to the people around you is key to moving forward in any business whether you’ve built it yourself or your working for someone else.”
Gorfein certainly has plenty to do on his lists as like most founders he works most weekends. “I wear many hats. Not only am I the CEO, but I built the technology, run business development, and I am our accountant, janitor, and coffee-fetcher, too.” But though he has many roles he only plays one per day (though maybe the coffee maker is always there because that is the most important.)
He told Ladders, “My strategy is that I wear one hat, and only that one hat on a given day. For example, I may decide it’s a business development type of day, in which case, I may stop by our existing media or advertising clients, or even cold call for new ones. Most importantly, I do not step into a different domain for that day. If it’s a tech engineering day, then I’m putting on my headphones and focusing on code and that’s it.”
His other trick for when he becomes overloaded? “I say “NO” a lot! Highly recommend it. “