UPDATE 3/2/2019: I currently switched from a “List of 10” to a “List of 5.” I found that less is more when trying to get things done. So, everything else in this article will be the same except that number!
I adapted my own weekly system for productivity and time management from the awesome book, Getting Things Done by David Allen. My List of 10 came from one of the most important habits David recommends in this book, which is a weekly planning session to set your priorities for the week.
So for me, usually on Sunday afternoon or evening, I take at least 15-20 minutes for a planning session. In this session, I plan the 10 most important business projects or key results for the upcoming week (“The List of 10”).
I have MANY more results that I could write down, but this list forces me to narrow my focus by asking the powerful question:
“If I achieved only one result this entire week, which would I want it to be?”
I answer that question 10 times, and the answers become my priority list for the week. I write the list of 10 results on a small piece of paper, and I carry the list around in my planner to review throughout the week (see picture of my planner and list here). Each morning and throughout each day, I use the “List of 10″ as a reference point to keep me focused and on task.
A typical List of 10 in my planner may look something like this:
- Spend 3 hours on Monday and Wednesday morning writing blog articles
- Spend 3 hours of acquisitions/marketing time on Tuesday and Thursday
- Order new business cards online
- Set up MLS filter for daily emails
- Visit 910 Thompson Street to create final rehab punchlist
- Edit draft of new lease document
- Write thank you notes to 3 appointments from last week
- Call Tom (potential private lender) to eat lunch
- Work with bookkeeper on Thursday to improve weekly process
- Get email inbox to zero
This simple list guides my actions during the week. If it’s not on the list, it’s not the most important business item. If something truly urgent comes up, I leave myself the flexibility to cross something off and add the new urgent item to the list (like a prospective private lender wanting to eat lunch with me).
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I don’t always accomplish all 10 results, but if I truly hustle and give 100% effort, I’ll sometimes check every result off the list by the end of the week. What a satisfying visual at the end of the week to see all of the items completed!
In the big picture, my goal is to combine prioritizing and hustle by stringing 2 weeks, then 2 months, and then 2 years of consistently checking items off my list. Consistently doing the most important tasks will almost guarantee that the results I want (like more profits, cash flow, and eventually financial freedom) will take care of themselves.
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