The Could-Do List
Throw away your to-do list…
Ah, the never-ending to-do list. All the stuff you’d love to get done today (or this week/month). It’s a magical list that never seems to get any smaller, no matter how many tasks you tick off.
You might start the day with 13 items on your to-do list, but by lunchtime, you’ve added another six. You slog your guts out all day and glance at your to-do list before you leave the office and – 14 items!
You worked your arse off, yet somehow ended the day with more to do than when you started.
Then you start thinking about tomorrow: there’s that phone call with the new client, the meeting with HR, those reports to finish, and… oh, what’s this? An email from your boss.
Tomorrow’s to-do list already has 23 things on it.
But that’s not the biggest problem with to-do lists – oh no! The real problem is our natural tendency to do the easy stuff first.
We scan that mammoth list of 23 items and don’t consider which gives the greatest return on investment or has the biggest impact on your goals.
No, we simply think, “Blimey, 23 items. Give me some quick wins so I can feel like I’m in control.”
Our only focus is on reducing the number of items left to do. We don’t care that the items left on the list are the really hard (more important!) tasks that we’ve been putting off for weeks or months. It matters not that these items are the ones that will actually move the needle for us. No, as long as the to-do list gets shorter, that’s the important thing.
You’ll get to the important stuff eventually, of course, because we try to do EVERYTHING on our to-do list. That’s why it’s called a “to-do” list – it’s all the things you have to do.
Well, I don’t use to-do lists – I use could-do lists.
A Could-do list is an antithesis of the bog-standard to-do list. It’s effectively a brain dump of everything you could do to improve your business. I complete a full brain dump every 90 days and will usually end up with a could-do list that’s several pages long with more than 100 items on it.
There’ll be lots of big scary tasks on there, as well as some things that are purely speculative and may not be worthwhile pursuing. Which is absolutely fine because I’m not actually committing to doing anything on this list.
It’s a could-do list, not a should-do list.
When the time comes to choose what to do, I don’t do the first thing that pops into my brain or whatever happens to be the first email in my inbox. Instead, I consult my trusty could-do list and work out what will give me the best return on investment.
You can add to your could-do list at any time. In fact, you should keep adding to it – it’s a fluid document. Your could-do list should be your filter for any new idea.
Instead of doing what most people do (Have idea > Try idea > Fail), the Could Do List process looks like this (Have idea > Capture idea > Triage ALL ideas > Work on the idea with highest ROI or greatest chance of success > Succeed)
Add all of your new ideas to your could-do list and (if they’re good enough), the cream will rise to the top and be implemented. If not, they’ll fall by the wayside and you won’t have wasted a damn minute pursuing them.
This stops you from having an idea and devoting a stupid amount of time to what could be a damp squib, all the while taking you away from what you should be doing. Anyone who’s ever suffered from Shiny New Object Syndrome will know all about this.
The Could Do List also ensures that no idea gets forgotten. As soon as one enters your brain, pop it on the could-do list and get back to what you should be doing. It’ll be there waiting for you when you next come to effectively plan your time.
Throw away your to-do list, and embrace the could-do list instead…
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DON’T YOU WISH GROWING YOUR BUSINESS COULD BE LESS STRESSFUL?
Could you improve your business by just 1% this week? Note: I said “improve”, NOT "grow" your business - growth might not be what you need.
More customers, more leads, more staff, more stress might be the last thing you need.
You might actually need more profit. more margin. more leverage.
More time, less stress, and a business that relies less on you as the "font of all knowledge and the godlike genius through which everything must flow".
For you, the answer could be a smaller team, less customers, and fewer products.
The One Percent Club won't help you grow your business. It'll help you IMPROVE it - 1% at a time. Baby steps. Steady, predictable improvement - towards the kind of business you wanted when you first started - one that delivers a fantastic lifestyle, and serves you rather than you serving it.
John released his first book “Big Ideas… for Small Businesses” in 2017, and it shot straight to the #1 bestseller list for Small Business and Entrepreneurship on Amazon, outselling books by Richard Branson, Alan Sugar and Duncan Bannatyne combined.
Since then, it’s sold thousands and thousands of copies all over the world, and attracted more than 100 five-star reviews. But more importantly, it’s changed the lives of small business owners all over the world, who now understand that running a lifestyle business isn’t a bad thing.
I think you’ll like it…
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