Productivity as a WAHM: Your Daily Action List

June 17th, 2009

Hi again, I’m Nicole Dean. I’m a Guest Expert here this week at Lexi’s request and I’ve been talking about “Productivity when Working from Home”. If you missed the previous lessons, you can find Day One here: Valuing your Time & Day Two here: Timing your Work.

Today I’d like to talk about something that’s huge as far as being a Work at Home Entrepreneur.

Actually planning your workday before you sit at the computer. (*gasp*)

This is, again, where Jimmy D. Brown’s report: “Homepreneur Habits: How To Run A Successful Home Business” is such a valuable resource. He shares his daily schedule, including what he does every day of the week to run a hugely profitable business in only 3 hours per day.

Let me back up a bit here before I get too far ahead of myself.

Why a “To Do” or “Action” List is Important.

Let’s take a peek into the work day of two twins: Silly and Sally.

Silly’s Day: Silly gets up, grabs a cup of coffee and sits down at her desk. She thinks “Hmm… I wonder what I should work on today?” and then wanders off to check email and twitter while she continues to decide what to work on. Several hours later, it’s time for her to get off the computer and she thinks “I didn’t get anything productive done! There’s never enough time in the day. I just don’t understand. I was busy all day!”

Sally’s Day: Sally gets up, grabs a cup of coffee and sits down at her desk. She picks up her action list of 6 items that she wants to get done for the day, and determines which one to tackle first. She then spends some focused time and finishes 5 of the items on her list. After that she decides that she’s almost out of time for the day, so she quickly checks email and Twitter. Then, she makes her list for the next day, making sure to transfer the item that didn’t get done to the new list.

Which one of those days looks more productive to you? It doesn’t take an efficiency expert to see that Sally is much more productive and gets more done (and probably makes a heck of a lot more money than Silly does.)

Both Sally and Silly are moms, so they’re interrupted more than a few times in the scenario above, but when all things are even – Sally is the winner by a long shot.

So are you Sally? Or are you Silly?

Now, I could talk forever about this topic, but I’m trying to stay very focused on what works the best, so I’ll try to keep it short.

Do it at Night.

A tip that I learned awhile ago is to make your to-do list at the end of your work day.

So, at the end of today, I will make my to-do list for tomorrow.

Why is this such an important tip? Well, just think of the alternative.

Did you notice that Sally sat down and was immediately able to jump into her action list? Not Silly. She had to sit and try to remember where she left off the day before. That’s not exactly the way to start off a productive day, is it?

Keep it Simple. Keep it Short.

I’m easily overwhelmed, so I like to write my action list for the day on a standard index card and limit it to 6 money-making tasks that I believe I can get done that day. I do not list everything that I need to do on that list or I’d just look at it and freeze and wander off to Twitter or grab someone on Instant Messenger to chat and stay “busy” but not “productive”.

I’ve tried numerous systems, including mind mapping, expensive day planning systems, and complicated computer programs. And, yes, I do use a larger system for planning my overall business.

HOWEVER… for the daily “to do” list tasks, I have found that simplicity is the one trick that works best for me. So, I run back to the simplicity of my wonderful index cards and my list of 6 items on it every time, simply because it works.

By keeping my list of 6 tasks in front of me and having it ready for me in the morning, I find that I accomplish two things:

I get more accomplished in my day. This is pretty self-explanatory.

I know when I’m done. If you don’t have a daily action list, how will you ever know when to leave your computer? There will always be more to do… Without my action list, I could grow roots to my swivel chair within a week’s time.

Finding your Way Back.

A daily action list also serves a busy home entrepreneur in one other way. When I get interrupted (and I do, often), I can very easily find my way back to productivity with one glance. Which of the six things was I working on? If I wasn’t any of them… well, then I was off track to begin with and I just busted myself.

When I didn’t have my daily list, I would have two major problems for a work at home entrepreneur. I’d be unproductive. And, I’d be unproductive for a really long time, since I didn’t know when I was done for the day. I know it sounds silly, but it’s practically an epidemic of colossal proportions when talking with online entrepreneurs.

The Moral of the Story? Don’t be Silly! Get your Work Done.

Your challenge for today is to buy some index cards and keep them by your desk. Every day before you call it “quitting time” make your list of 6 items to do the next day. Start your day with that list. See how much more work you get done and you can thank me later.

And, again, if you have $15 to invest for a whole lot of productivity, I highly recommend: Jimmy D. Brown’s report: “Homepreneur Habits: How To Run A Successful Home Business.”


Nicole Dean on Twitter| Nicole Dean’s Blog & Podcast

10 Responses to “Productivity as a WAHM: Your Daily Action List”

  1. Courtney on June 17, 2009 6:48 pm

    I’m sad to say that I am a Silly. But I am working on becoming a Sally.

  2. Nicole Dean on June 17, 2009 6:50 pm

    Courtney –
    There’s a little Silly in all of us.
    Work on releasing your inner Sally. lol!

  3. Danielle on June 17, 2009 9:57 pm

    As always my dear, you give great information. I love your “twin” analogy and you’re right, some days we can be Sillies, but as long as we are training ourselves to be more like “Sallies” and learn how to do it properly:-)….we’ll get where we want to be!


  4. Mary on June 18, 2009 2:03 am

    Again you bring so much great information. I try to be a Sally, but there are days when the Silly in me just wins out hands down.

    I just want to say that I am learning so much from your Rock Star Summer. Thank you for all the fantastic freebie info you are delivering.

  5. Lexi on June 18, 2009 1:18 pm

    I thrive on lists but I’ve been making them in the morning instead of at night. Will try this and see how it goes.

  6. Angela Green on June 18, 2009 7:33 pm

    Oh, I’m totally doing this! So simple, yet so effective.

  7. Cindy Bidar on June 22, 2009 12:13 pm

    I love the idea of limiting the to-do list to six items. I often end up being a Silly just because I have so much to do that I can’t focus. Perhaps I need a master list from which I can pull my six daily items.

  8. Loretta on June 25, 2009 1:44 am

    Lists lists lists! I’ve always got a to-do list on my desk. Actually I have three! I have a long term list, a short term list, and a do this right now list!

  9. Fruitfulvine2 on July 2, 2009 3:44 am

    This post on the daily action list moved me to action right away:) I did my 6 things and I’m all set and ready to go.

  10. Fruitfulvine2 on July 2, 2009 3:45 am

    I mean I listed my six things. Sorry:)

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