How to Get a Handle on Your To-Do List

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How to Get a Handle on Your To-Do List

It’s no secret that the life of an independent retailer is one long series of “to-dos”. The list never seems to have an end to it, no matter how many items on the list are checked off in a day. Looking at a seemingly never-ending list of things you need to do can sometimes lead to what I like to call “freeze-frame”. Freeze-frame is when you look at everything on your list that you need to get done, and for some reason you can’t stop looking at the list, but you also can’t seem to make a move to actually DO any of it because you’re overwhelmed. Everything comes to a halt; you’re frozen, nothing gets done. This is not good, todo1especially for a busy retailer. Let’s take a look at how you can break the “freeze-frame” syndrome and get back on track with that list.

Use Technology – Pen and paper are out! Of course if that’s your thing and you are able to manage with just a pen and paper, go for it! However, there are many apps available that can help you organize and get through your to-do list quickly and efficiently. Evernote, Asana, Todoist, Remember the Milk and Any.do (iPhone only) are some good list apps to take a look at. They all have many different features, and for those who like to delegate tasks, some of them will integrate team members into the list. They all have free versions, and for those who want more functionality, paid premium versions are available.

Keep it Manageable – A list with too many items on it will definitely lead to freeze-frame. Productivity pros recommend no more than 20 items, and if you can, less. Always remove or archive items accomplished. If items keep getting “pushed back” and not done, give yourself a time limit. If the item has not been done by that time limit, say one week after it was added to the list, either delete the item or do it!

Organize It – Always organize your list by grouping similar items together. Think about all of the categories you will need ahead of time, such as accounting, inventory, marketing, HR, email, return calls, etc. Each category will become its own mini-list and will seem less overwhelming to look at each day.

todo2Prioritize – Within each category of to-dos you have, list them in order of priority. Do the most important ones first, of course. Always do ONE high priority item on your list every day, and then pat yourself on the back at your success! Even one success can sometimes give you enough of a kick to jumpstart your engines and you may even get several things done you weren’t expecting to get done that day.

Break it Down – If you have something like “Plan summer marketing campaign” on your list, it will become a freeze-frame, guaranteed. Break large projects down into manageable chunks. For that marketing campaign, start with “Research new products for summer” or “Pull summer product buyers email list”. Baby steps.

Keep up With It – Look at your list every day, take a deep breath and decide on one or two things you plan on getting done that day. Then do them! Cross them off the list! Congratulate yourself for a job well done, and then…rinse and repeat.

Keeping up with a to-do list and actually getting the items on the list accomplished can be overwhelming, but it can be done. By implementing the suggestions above, you just may be able to overcome that dreaded “freeze-frame” syndrome and make all of those never-ending tasks seem very doable.