Five Simple Steps to Conquer the To-Do List Monster

I iz overwhelmed

Has your to-do list been kicking your ass lately? Here’s why: you have tons of really great ideas and it’s really easy to think of things that need to get done (or things that “should” get done). It’s a lot harder to find the time to actually do all of them. You’re not alone. It can be especially difficult for wedding entrepreneurs to turn down new projects or to tell a bride on the phone, “you talk too much and I have other things to do, bye.”

Don’t fret. Here are five simple steps to outwitting the to-do list monster:

1) Make a new list every day. This forces you to take some time to plan out your day and it gives you a chance to reconsider that extra five-hour task you added to your list yesterday.

2) Set clear priorities. If you haven’t established your vision for your business, taken a close look at your values and your mission, this can trip you up. My coaching process takes clients through this crucial phase so that they can quickly set priorities instead of floundering. Once you know what your money-makers (or fulfillment-makers) are, you can easily pick out your top priority tasks. Be ruthless and be clear: every task is either more or less important than every other one.

3) Knock out the big ones. Once you know what’s super important to your business, focus on those things. It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to do it all. The key to getting ahead without losing your mind is knowing exactly what you need to do and then doing it (without getting too distracted).

4) Cut yourself some slack, Bucko. Hey, if this were easy, I wouldn’t be talking about it. Pretty much every other small business owner in the wedding industry is dealing with the exact same overwhelm from trying to cram too much into a busy day. Realize that you won’t get everything done that you want to. Be okay with that. Accept that you are kicking ass and getting the right things done instead of trying to get everything done (and getting nothing done).

5) Take out the semi-sweet smelling trash. If you stick to your top priorities every day, you will eventually have a long list of nice-sounding-but-low-priority to-dos that never get done. Want some fresh air? Cross them off your list. Better yet, rip up the paper they’re on (or burn it). Okay, if you can’t bear to lose them forever, email them to yourself or upload them to with the title “projects for a rainy day.” If you’re still having trouble, read my “just say no” post on saying no to things that sound good at the time.

Were you surprised by any of the steps? Most of us have a loose notion about how we should be approaching our daily to-do list, but most wedding entrepreneurs think they are too damn busy to give it serious thought. Until you try something new, step back and get a fresh perspective on how you’re spending your day, you’re going to keep feeling way-too-busy.

Teaser: on Friday, we’ll talk about how to actually get some more time (and more fun) back into your schedule, now that you’ve whipped that to-do list.