How to Make Sure Your To-Do List is Actually Helping You Get Things Done

While effective productivity is valued at most workplaces, it is absolutely crucial for startups and entrepreneurs. 

Since time is money, the highest priority is getting things done on schedule, if not sooner. Nothing can fall through the cracks.

If you are going to hit the ground running every day, and get everything knocked out on time, you need to know how to work from the most powerfully effective to-do list every single day. Here are a few tips on how to create it and how to use it for maximum productivity. Continue reading “How to Make Sure Your To-Do List is Actually Helping You Get Things Done”

Focus On Prorities — But Don’t Neglect the “Bottom” of Your To-Do List

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When it comes to productivity, there are things that you must do and then there are things that you would like to do. Those things that you must do are always at the top of your to-do list and they are there for a reason. They keep the lights on. But then there are a handful of things you would like to do but for which you can never seem to find the time to get done.

They always sit at the bottom of your list waiting for that arbitrary “someday”.

But the real question is — when is that “someday”?

Chances are when you say someday, that translates to never. But don’t always neglect the bottom of your to do list. Here’s why.

There is never a good time.

Frankly, if you keep pushing what you want to do off, you’ll never do it. There will always be something more important or more urgent. For things that are only “nice-to-do”, there is never a good time to do it. That is why you have to find the time. You can be productive and get all the things that you need to do done, while working on some projects you are passionate about as well.

What’s not important now may be later.

You may be putting things off because they’re not necessarily important to you now. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be later on. It takes time to work up to your goals and passions. Get a head start now. Chip away a little at a time and before you know it, you’ll be done.

Learn to prioritize the non-essentials.

Being productive doesn’t mean getting as much done as possible. It means getting the right things done. Some things are super important but that doesn’t mean you should just forget about it. We all have a long list of what we deem as non-essentials or nice-to-dos. While we can’t do them all, learn to prioritize a few.

Focus on self-improvement.

Our to-do list too often only consists of doing things for others, whether it be family, friends or coworkers. We push the “me time” down all the way to the bottom. Don’t forget to focus on yourself. Think about what you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time for. Maybe it was writing a book or going on that trip. Do it now. Focus on your passions. Giving yourself time to do things you love is just as important as everything else.

5 Reasons Evernote is the Killer App for My Business and Life

Evernote Killer App

As an entrepreneur, I rely on a number of apps to help me “hack” my day for greater productivity. During the past several years, I’ve experimented with a number of apps, and some apps have gone the distance, while some have been unceremoniously deleted and forgotten.

The one app that’s lasted the longest and become an indispensable part of my daily workflow?  Evernote.

Given the fact that an entire industry of fans and authors has been built up around Evernote during the past few years, I’m always surprised to find fellow small business owners who have never heard of the app. As such, I decided to write this post to show just some of the reasons that Evernote is my killer app:

1) It’s my filing cabinet — for work and life.

Perhaps the best (and most basic) benefit of Evernote is that it serves as a filing cabinet for everything. It has become the foundation for my efforts to keep my inbox at “zero” because it allows me to forward emails directly to it.  The app’s system of notebooks, notes and tagging make sit easy not only to store emails, notes and large attachments, but also to find them easily.  It’s search function is second-to-none.  The messaging function also allows easy sharing of those attachments and files.  Because of all these reasons, Evernote has become an extension of my brain, storing all the information that I know I’ll never remember.

The Evernote Web clipper also allows me to “clip” anything I’m reading on the Web directly into Evernote, without opening the app.

On a personal note, I save my kids’ soccer schedules and I even have a Notebook set up in which I post photos and notes on wine.  Did I mention that Evernote’s text recognition allows you to simply take a photo of, say, a wine label, and then search for that wine using text that may have appeared on that label?  It’s wonderful.

2) It’s my to-do list(s).

As I wrote here, I use a dual-to-do-list system to keep myself on track.  I do this in Evernote.  I have a To-Do list notebook, in which I keep my longer-term weekly to-do lists, as well as my shorter, daily to-do lists.  My Evernote iPhone app has become an extension of me — allowing me to speak my to-do list items into my phone as I think of them.  It’s the biggest key to my productivity.

3) It’s my CYA machine.

I’ve learned (the hard way) to save certain emails to “cover my butt” in the future. For example, there is someone I’ve worked around for whom I find it necessary to save every single email as documentation to avoid future “he said-he said” dilemmas.  I also save emails for which I got written approval from clients. Saving these in Evernote ensures I can find them easily, and prevents my email inbox from being a cluttered mess.

4) It’s my writing tool.

I wrote this blog post in Evernote over the course of a few days.  Then I transferred it to WordPress.  For clients, I sometimes write memos and draft blog posts and send directly to them from Evernote via the app’s messaging tool. It’s easy and ensures that I have easy access to my drafts-in-progess on all of my connected devices.

5) It’s my note-taking tool.

I long ago stopped using paper and pen to take notes in meetings or on conference calls.  No I use Evernote.  For most in-person meetings, I’ll take notes on my iPad Mini.  For conference calls, I’ll use Evernote on my laptop or desktop.  I’ve even taken meeting notes on my iPhone.

There are so many wonderful uses for Evernote, and I couldn’t possible have mentioned them all in this brief blog post.  It is the app I use most often and the one that I count on to keep me productive and stress-free on a daily basis.

If you’re interested in getting started with Evernote, check out their blog and read their case studies.