Productivity Hack – Reverse-Engineer the Todo List

After many years playing around with productivity hacks, I have come across a practice that works very well for me. Quite simple, break the task down into teeny-tiny bits and just be content with getting one thing done. No pressure, just one thing.
3 min read

Start with a big goal, something just out of reach – so it pushes you, but even if you got halfway it would still be an amazing result. Lets talk productivity and the todo list

I've struggled for many years with procrastination, I've slowly cut things from my life, TV, Playstation, Weekend night outs so that I have absolutely not excute for not making good use of my free time. Well, it took a good long time before I started getting the hang of it. I slipped into countless TV Show marathons (This time in front of the laptop and not the TV), any skip forward a year or so and I've finally started getting the hang of things and that's all thanks to bitesize chunks of tasks and just being happy with one thing done.

We've all done a todo list; typically you write down what you have to do that day and try and get through it, except if your anything like me, it's really not that straightforward. The list just didn't ever get done. I read a lot about the topic of todo lists and productivity, and Merlin Mann, David Allen and a host of other writers/thinkers/bloggers helped shape me into the bath of reverse-engineering the todo list.

Start with the goal, break it up and break it up until it is absolutely impossible not to take a step forward!

For me a big goal would be 5,000 email subscribers, it's achievable, yes - if I went somewhat viral all of a sudden. But also, if I only got 50%... 25%, that would still amazing!

So stick that goal at the top of your paper. P.S. Get a sheet of paper.
We are now going to break that up into 3-5 smaller chunks. Think about the steps or things you need to do to achieve this big goal.

For me thats making sure all the necessary tech things are in place and that people can get on my newsletter. I need there to be a reason to sign up and then someway of getting a lot of traffic towards that funnel:

  1. Landing page for email newsletter, somewhere they can ACTUALLY get on the list that tells them all about the benefits
  2. Feature boxes and website bits that tempt you to sign up, doesn't need to hard sell it but to at least allow them to sign up
  3. Guest blog traffic channeled to landing page. Guest blogging is a great source of qualified traffic
  4. Developed a 'free gift' or reason to sign up
  5. 15 posts in the Autoresponder queue

Guess what now?! Yep, break those goals up too, what do you need to do to get those goals achieved?

MAIN GOAL: 5000 subscribers

SECONDARY GOAL: Landing page for the email list

TARGET: Write the Headlines and Copy for Landing page

ACTION: Read the article on writing landing page copy

ACTION: Write out 5 potential headlines

ACTION: Write out 5 potential Calls to Action

ACTION: Write out 5 Benefits to my newsletter

TARGET: Image of the free give-away

ACTION: Design Book Cover

ACTION: Create 3D Graphic of book

etc etc etc

Now that we have all those little actions we want to compile them your new todo list – a tip from Neville Medhora is to cover up all of the actions with a piece of paper, and tactically work through them one at a time. I do like that tip, it's certainly worked sometimes but for me there really is something in just writing down one thing and getting that done. So I propose once we have the list above, writing another list which is simply one item, if you get it done, cross it out and write the next thing.

Now you have a to-done list!

No one should fear their todo list, it should be something you look forward to creating and something in which you rely on to keep you on track, performing and progressing.

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