Your todo list sucks. As an entrepreneur, you have an ever growing list of things not yet done. The forever growing dumpster fire of a “to do” list.
And the worst part is, most of your list doesn’t matter, will never get done, and is just there to haunt you.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Our Mastermind members have mastered implementation and lovingly share their approaches to getting done what matters most. Our top three strategies have been used for decades, proven again and again with other members, and used in businesses of all sizes.
And one of our favorites is “The Law of Three”.
An Agile Approach to your To Do List
In the world of SCRUM, you’d organize your list into a “backlog”, estimate the time needed (or number of “story points”) to complete each task, organize them by importance, plan your sprint, and then execute.
There’s an even more important step to this process that most founders — especially you hoarders, you know who you are! — fail at.
And that’s simply deleting items that have been on your list too long and haven’t gotten done. The thinking goes that if it’s been undone for so long it’s clearly not important enough to get done, and if it becomes important again, it can always been added to your backlog again.
In the interim, items that you purge don’t clutter up your board and let you and your team focus on what actually matters.
Where do you keep your backlog and current sprint? Traditionally this has been done using post it sticky notes on boards. It can also be done using software. For example, my team and I use Jira for our backlog and sprints. You can also use Trello.
A few of our Mastermind members have even converted a wall of their office into a Scrum board with simple tape and sticky notes. Easy. And satisfying to physically move notes.
The Law of Three
If you’re not going to take the more technical Agile approach to managing what needs to get done, you can at the very least apply Brian Tracy’s Rule of Three.
“What is the law of three?” you’re wondering?
Looking at all you need to get done as it relates to your bigger picture goals and objectives, ask yourself “What is the #1 most important task I can accomplish before anything else that will bring me closer to my goal?”
Circle that item. Star it. Underline it. Whatever. That’s the first task to get done before anything else. Before the fires of your day. Before your emails. Before touching your phone.
Next up, ask what the second most important task is. Mark that. Repeat for the third item.
You now have your prioritized Big Three to get done before anything else. (The rest of your items likely don’t matter anyway).
Repeat this process daily.
At the end of each members session in our Mastermind meeting, we ask (or suggest!) which items they want to be held accountable to between now and the next month’s meeting.
One of our members always — right then and there — flags her #1, 2, and 3 items. Boom. Instant Big Three.
Filing Your Daily Flight Plan (“DFP”)
Before pilots set foot in their aircraft, they file a flight plan with the tower. This lets air traffic control know when the plane is leaving, where it’s going, and the intended route to get there.
You wouldn’t want your pilot just “winging it” and making it up as they want, right?
Why would you wing your day and just do whatever comes up?
File a flight plan!
Before you wrap up your day, use the process above to pick your Big Three for the next day. Get those done first. Before any other distractions or tasks that have no value.
“But, Jeremy, I have, like, meetings and appointments and other things I need to get done, too!”
Of course, you’ll likely have other items on your calendar for the day. Start your day earlier for your Big Three, or block the time in your day to accomplish your tasks.
I use this strategy myself and with some of my team, depending on their role.
In fact, I combine all three of these. The top of my flight plan is my Big Three. the middle is my scheduled meetings and appointments. And the bottom is specifically labeled “unimportant to do.”
Where do the items for my flight plan come from? From my agile backlog!
The Law of Three in Action
Putting it all together:
- Organize your overall “to do” list into an Agile backlog
- Mark your Big Three at the top of your backlog / sprint
- Start each day according to your Daily Flight Plan with the Big Three up top
Now get out there, burn your old fashioned “to do” list, and start crushing your Big Three every day!
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