Every day I work on multiple project—each with multiple facets. I need to know what must be done, the order I need to do it, what I need to accomplish it and what’s already been done. Making a simple list helps me keep track of all of this.
The idea of making lists and how to use them is very simple.
Make a list of tasks we need to do — that’s very simple. But, we need to expand that a little. The list needs to be detailed; don’t leave anything out, not even the small things.
Creating The List
As an example, let’s say we’re building a website. Our list might start something like this:
- Think of a domain name
- See if that domain is available (Keep trying until you find one that is available)
- Register the domain name
- Get a hosting account (if you don’t already have one)
- Point the domain name to the hosting account
- Get a logo
- Install WordPress
- Find a theme
- Install my Opt-in Page plugin and WP Salesletter plugin
- Create the product
My sample only used 10 items. Yours might be 50, 100, 200, the number doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have each and every step covered.
This is not meant to be a complete list; yours may have a lot more items on it. This is just an example to help drive home my point.
All of these tiny things may seem like common sense. But they’re all part of what needs to be done and tracked. If you don’t do this, you’ll forget something, duplicate a step or get things accomplished in the incorrect order. It enables you to view the project at a glance and determine that everything has been completed.
MAKE SURE you list everything in the correct order and don’t leave anything out. For example, if you forget step two until the end, you may find that you did all this work and the domain name is not available.
Working On The List
Once the list is complete we simply start by going down the list and note the things we are going to do personally. Then decide WHY you are going to be the one to do it. Maybe you have to do it or maybe you just WANT to do it.
This leads us to the Big Question.
Ask yourself, “out of all the things I marked to personally do, am I the best person to do them?” If the answer is “yes” then you do it. If the answer is “no” then don’t because it may take you too long. You may have to take time to learn a new skill before you can do it.
This is VERY IMPORTANT. What you’re doing is accepting responsibility for those items.
Use care when you check off the things you will personally do. Remember, only accept the things you know you’re best at and take responsibility for them.
Next we go through the list again and look at the unmarked items. Ask yourself who will do the other tasks. If you already know the answer, write it down next to the task.
If you don’t know the answer, you now have a new task — find someone to do it. If we know someone who can do it, that’s great — get them lined up to do it. If you don’t personally know someone who can do it you’ll need to outsource it.
This is another item added to the list…find someone to outsource it to.
Your next step is to bundle. Go through the list again and group the tasks into bundles with two to four tasks in each bundle. Put a completion date next to each bundle.
You might bundle numbers 1, 2 and 3 together. You are looking for related steps so you bundle them together and put a completion date next to them. Steps 4 and 5 might be the next bundle, etc…
You now have several bundles each with a completion date. Maybe bundles one and two will only take one day so you list the next day as their completion date.
Maybe bundle three will take four days so you write the date that’s four days from today. You may be able to do some of the bundles simultaneously. For example your bundles number one and two may be able to be done simultaneously…you don’t have to wait for number one to be complete before you start number two.
Once you’ve done this you have a completion date for your project. We must keep in mind that some of the task are dependent on other people so that could extend the completion date a little. That’s okay. The main thing is we now have all steps covered and a completion projection date.
Without a list most people pull completion dates out of thin air with no rhyme or reason behind them. They have no list of the tasks that need to be completed in order to complete by that date. They may not even fully understand what needs to be done.
With this, you have a guide to track progress (or lack of it) and are able to more accurately arrive at a realistic completion date. When you outsource a task, ask the person how long it will take them to do it. If they are experienced, they should be able to give you a pretty accurate answer.
If one person is taking longer than scheduled at completing their task, you will know it right away and adjust the completion to compensate or find someone else to complete it. The more often you use a list for your projects, the more accurate you will be at arriving at reliable completion dates. Using lists has enabled me and my team to complete projects faster than most people would believe possible.