How often do you get to the end of a work day and think "what the heck did I even accomplish today?!" I hear people say it all the time, and I'll admit that I say it from time to time too. BUT, I probably say it way less than the average person, and I have one of my old bosses to thank for that. It must have been about 7 or 8 years ago...I was sitting in a staff meeting up at CAMP-of-the-WOODS and the CEO gave us each a Steno notebook. He encouraged us to write down our tasks as we accomplished them throughout the day so that we could look back on our day's work and feel proud. I'll admit, I was a housekeeper at the time and thought it was a pretty lame idea. What was I going to write? Scrubbed toilet. Scrubbed another toilet. Made bed. Scrubbed another toilet.
Just a year later I was working as the assistant to that CEO and that Steno notebook became my best friend! Being an executive assistant at a busy resort is much like juggling double-edged swords while putting out a fire and walking across coals. The To-Done List (as I affectionately call it) was a life saver! Not only did it help me feel a sense of accomplishment, but it also kept me organized and allowed me to reference my every move.
Today, I run a successful and demanding wedding photography business (BEST JOB EVER!), and my To-Done List has a permanent spot on my desk just as it has for the last 5 years. After filling almost a dozen notebooks, I can say that a To-Done List is easily just as important as your To-Do list. Here are some of my favorite benefits!
1. Track your most repeated tasks so you can create systems!
I encourage you to try it out for a few months for this reason alone! When we first bought our house I realized that I was manually paying the water bill one day, the electric another day, the internet another day, and the phone bill another day. YUCK! So much wasted time and stress trying to remember all the due dates. After realizing this, I signed up for automatically billing for all our utilities - YES!!!!
2. Notice the most time-consuming tasks!
If I get to the end of the day and see that I only wrote one or two things down, I can evaluate. What took up such a huge chunk of time? Did it need to take that long? If it does, how should I schedule that task in the future? Can I outsource it?
3. A full list feels GOOD!
I want to have a full list at the end of the day so it helps me be productive and get excited about adding the next done item! I looooove adding each item! Sometimes I realize I haven't added a completed task in a while (facebook ruins lives), and just the idea of adding another one gets my butt in gear!
4. Fight the voices of failure!
As a small business owner, it's easy to believe the lies that I'm a giant floppy pancake of nothingness. When I'm lying on the couch in my stretched out sweatpants, day old socks, and messy bun (not the cute kind) scrolling through the perfect lives of instagram...it's easy to think little of myself. But in writing this post, I went back and read through some of my old notebooks. "Bought photoshop. Watched CreativeLIVE class on editing. Practiced shooting in manual. Researched LLC vs S-Corps. Googled for photography contracts." Wow, I am so impressed with how far I've come! It reminds me of that amazing quote...
"The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday!"
5. One line at a time productivity!
A to-do list is usually LOOONG and overwhelming and paralyzing. But when I'm adding to my To-Done list, I'm adding one line at a time...one task at a time. Instead of feeling like I need to do everything at once, I force myself to choose ONE thing. Accomplish that one task and write it down. Then pick the next one. Rinse & repeat. My current desktop wallpaper is a quote that says "You can do anything but not everything." Holy moly is that the truth!
Oh and a tip: Add "working" items as well. As a photographer, you likely have some tasks that span across several days. Sometimes I can't just sit down for 5 hours to edit, but I can spare 30 minutes to edit. So I'll write "editing A&B wedding." It doesn't have to actually be DONE! :)
I hope you found this helpful! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to write "blogged about to-done list" on my to-done list! Go get yourself a notebook!!! :)