One of the great things about being an entrepreneur or freelancer is that nobody tells you what to do.
You’re 100% in control of your schedule.
However, the downside to this is that YOU always have to figure out what to do next. And it can be overwhelming when you consider all the options.
Do you chip away at that website copywriting project that’s due in a couple weeks? Do you spend time prospecting? Do you create content for inbound marketing? What do you do?
I’ve tried many different systems over the years to manage my projects but I found that I have a tendency to overcomplicate things. So when you give me a tool like David Allen’s GTD, I make it too complicated.
This is why I’ve decided to simplify how I manage my day. What I’m most excited about right now is a system I learned from Tim Ferriss while reading his book, Tools of Titans.
I’ll copy his entire process below and then show you how I’ve simplified it to just 3 questions:
From Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss (pg. 200).
1) Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen. Email is the mind-killer.
2) Make a cup of tea (I like our-erh) and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper.
3) Write down the 3–5 things — and no more — that are making you the most uncomfortable. They’re often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Most important usually equals most uncomfortable, with some chance of rejection or conflict.
4) For each item, ask yourself:
* “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”
* “Will moving this forward make all the other to-dos unimportant or easier to knock off later?”
* “What, if done, will make all of the rest easier or irrelevant?”
5) Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.
6) Block out 2–3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow.
7) TO BE CLEAR: Block out 2–3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work. No phone calls or social media allowed.
8) If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t freak out and downward-spiral; just gently come back to your ONE to-do.
My Simplified version of this:
1) Write down the 3–5 things — and no more — that are making you the most uncomfortable.
For each item, ask yourself:
- “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”
- “What, if done, will make everything else easier or irrelevant?”
2) Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.
3) Block out 2–3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today.
I like this process because it helps me focus more on what’s important and less on the urgent/unimportant tasks that clamor for my attention if I were to simply scan my never-ending to-do list.
Plus, it helps me schedule 2–3 hours to actually get that ONE thing done vs trying to cram in 30 minutes here and there to chip away at it.
But the best part of this system is it help protect my sanity. And being sane is a core value of mine. 🙂