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My To-DO List

My To-Do List

I’ve learned to split my to-do list into, actually three to-do lists.

This is the best way I’ve found to move my business forward while somehow juggling all the other marginal things that require my time.

So, I don’t think I can really explain this in any better way than to simply show you what it looks like in real time.

I have a whole lot of things that need to get done tomorrow.

So I wrote up a list to give me a visual sense of how it will all play out.

My To-Do List

  • Call the heating contractor to do some maintenance on the furnace (it’s starting to get cold, here).
  • Write an article (deadline: 2 days)
  • Construct a sales page
  • Do 3 training videos for an upsell product for one of my sales funnels
  • Conduct a Skype session with one of my clients
  • Write a daily email for one of my mailing lists
  • Get the oil changed for my car
  • Edit yesterday’s videos to use in new training course
  • Reformat yesterday’s videos into mp3 format for uploading to my video service
  • Take the dog to the beach
  • Attend a training webinar
  • Prepare social media posts for campaign
  • Review a client’s product (deadline: 3 days)
  • Shoot a training video for a client (deadline: tomorrow)
  • Do my daily blog visits
  • Do my daily forum visits
  • Finish the content for a lead magnet product
  • Update the “Resource” section of several of my WSO products with new affiliate links
  • Create an affiliate page for a new product that’s ready for launch
  • Outline a sales funnel for a client

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My Gold List (to-do list #1)

So here’s how I work this.

My To-Do List is random things that need to get done tomorrow. Some of the things on this list are hold-overs from prior To-Do lists. They remain undone, but still in queue. They will get done as soon as they trip my priority threshold.

All My To-Do Stuff gets thrown into my  ‘Action Rotation’

The others have been jotted down as I worked on things today, and decided they needed to get put into my “action rotation.” From my big To-Do List of everything I’d like to get done tomorrow, I extract 2 or 3 things that I really must do in the next 24 hours to keep my business moving forward. These things go on my Gold List.

My Gold List is reserved for “productive” things… those things that will most directly or indirectly affect the profitability of my business. The things I put on my Gold List get done first thing in the day. Everything else.. everything else… gets done AFTER I complete my Gold List items.

My “B” List items are really important, but are best put off to later in the day.

The “After Hours” items are things I usually do in the evening, often while I listen to training replays, or watch television out of the corner of my eye. I know I shouldn’t multitask, but come evening, I lose the intensity I have in the earlier part of the day. I get things done, but at a more leisurely pace.

Remember… Everything else.. everything else… gets done only AFTER I complete my Gold List items

Now, it happens, that unexpected things occur and I have to ditch part of this plan.

If something has to get pushed down to the next day, I look to cut the “After Hours” items first. The next things I cut are my “B” List items, even if they include appointments. We’re talking about very important, even emergency situations before I’ll re-schedule an appointment with a client… but it happens sometimes.

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My Gold List items almost never get abandoned. It happens, but only when there’s a real emergency or drastic interruption in my life that day.

Barring emergencies, my Gold List items get done first because they have high value. That is, they will improve the profitability of my business.

My “Gold List”

Notice the 3 things I listed on my Gold List above.

==> Write a daily email for each of my mailing lists ==>

This is because all the work I do as an internet marketer funnels my prospects, followers and customers onto one or more of my email lists. I need to keep in constant contact with them. Writing emails keeps my followers updated and engaged with what I’m doing, and keeps them as loyal and repeat customers.

For this reason, I always start my day by writing my emails. This is almost always the first item on my Gold List.

==> Update the “Resource” section of several of my WSO products with new affiliate links ==>

This is obvious.

I have resource links to some of my other products and services that get embedded in my front end products. Sometimes, the resources I recommend are links to affiliate products. Updating these affiliate links improves my chances for profitability. So, I don’t want to push this relatively simple task off.

==> Shoot a training video for a client (deadline: tomorrow) ==>

I never like to miss a deadline for work I’ve scheduled to do with or for a client. It’s a far more productive use of my time to give first rate service to existing clients, than to go hunting for new ones.

Everything on my Gold List relates to bottom line profits.

I do these things first because they usually demand my utmost energy, creativity and alertness. For me, that means that I need to do them first thing in the day.

Also, the later in the day you schedule an activity, not only do you start getting tired and lose some focus, but you increase the chances that something sudden can arise to derail your activities.

My “B” List

After my Gold List items are completed, I’ll move on to my “B” List. These are things that I really want to get done, but don’t absolutely have to.

Special:  My Free Gift To You!  See How To Build An Amazing Email List

My “B” List items are:

==> Conduct a Skype session with one of my clients ==>

This is scheduled for tomorrow. It must happen. I’ve scheduled it for later in the day because it doesn’t require quite the intensity that my Gold List items do. But it will get done tomorrow.

==> Take the dog to the beach ==>

This is not as critical to do as my client’s Skype session, but it gives me a much needed break after all the things I’ve done in the day, and my Blue Tick Hound likes nothing better. He’s from Tennessee so he’d rather hunt raccoons in the mountains and forest, but now he’s living near the beach so that’s not going to happen. He’ll settle for romps in the fenced in back-yard, but he gives me extra hugs when I take him to the beach for his run. That makes this a top priority item for me (for both of us, actually).

My To-Do List

My After Hours List

Obviously, my After Hours items are important, but not totally necessary. Nonetheless, I usually get to them. They move my business forward, but are not directly related to it’s profitability. These items are usually more about connecting with people, building networks and maintaining relationships.

The Leftovers

Now, all the rest of my To-Do List will get held over for the next day. They will be the basis for my next day’s To-Do List. If they’ve become obsolete for some reason, I drop them from my “action rotation.” That’s how I run my business on a day to day basis.

It works for me.

That doesn’t mean it’s the best strategy for everyone, but it’s a good format to model if you’re just flapping in the wind, aren’t being productive, and find yourself jumping from one path to another and never getting anywhere… or at least nowhere worthwhile, or just not quickly enough.

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So how about it?

Do you work from a To-Do List?

Has this article given you some ideas for a better way to work through it?

I’d love to read your comments below. If you share this out to your friends on social sites, I’ll put in a good word for you with Giuseppi, my Blue Tick Hound.

Thanks for visiting.

David Merrill 101
I'm an Internet Marketer and Online Marketing Coach. My students learn no-nonsense, power strategies and techniques to build solid blogging and internet businesses. David Merrill+

27 Responses to My To-DO List

  1. Chery Schmidt September 26, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    Hello David, I do work from a to do list, I actually learned this one from your lovely wife Donna!! LOL

    Every Friday I sit down and take out my journal and write everything I want to get done the following week, then come Sunday night I open this up and start my lists.

    I do like your idea of the different lists, perhaps I will give this a try this week.

    Great Share, Thanks
    Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt´s last blog post ..How To Mastermind Your Way To Success Online

    • David Merrill 101 October 1, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

      Yea, Donna pretty good with this stuff. I probably learned it from her, too 🙂

      Hope you continue moving your business forward, Chery, as you continue fine tuning your daily method of operation. Ideas and big goals are great, but it all gets down to what we’re going to do TODAY to make our business better TOMORROW>
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..My To-DO List

  2. Mary Sloane September 27, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    Wow that todo list puts mine to shame but I realize that I only put on my todo list Gold items and seldom get through all of them

    Clearly I need to re-think some of this.

    I really appreciated you sharing how you think about this as it really helps my thought process. Plus I realize I am not a nearly as productive as I could be as my ToDo list does not include everything that “should” get done if I want the results that I say I want.

    Need to up the ante… thanks for the push
    Mary Sloane´s last blog post ..Affiliate Marketing, Network Marketing, Both?

    • David Merrill 101 October 1, 2015 at 10:30 pm #

      You’ve hit on a key issue here, Mary.

      You won’t be as productive as you should be as long as you are not deciphering which
      “to do” items really need to get done TODAY, as opposed to the others.

      As long as the first half of your day is focused on doing things that will directly relate to the profitability of your business, you are being productive. If those are the things that keep getting pushed of to “another day” then your business will stay right where it is, and won’t get any bigger, more prosperous, better or whatever you’re looking for.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Blogging To Make Money

  3. Brenda Pace September 27, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    Love it David! I have many “to do” lists posted around my house. At the end of the week, I compile them all and start working on them the following week! haha My most important things “to do” are kept on my Google Calendar and I check them off daily. It’s interesting to see how people keep a “To Do” list and categorize items.

    Thanks for sharing yours with us. I hope you do get to take the pup to the beach. 🙂

    Have a great week!

    B
    Brenda Pace´s last blog post ..What Can Social Media Do For Your Small Business

    • David Merrill 101 October 4, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

      I actually write my to do list with “next week” in mind, Brenda.

      I know when I’m scheduling things to get done, they’re not going to happen instantly unless it’s of utmost urgency… which only means I screwed up and didn’t get it done last week… lol

      Yea, the pup got to the beach. He always seems to get what he wants (squeeky wheel gets the grease)

      Thanks for pitching in.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..List Building On My Mind

  4. Kathryn Maclean September 27, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

    Hi David.

    Great article on to do lists.
    I took notes I am an organizational freek.
    Signed up for your 3 List building Machines

    Did I see that poor Giuseppi, your Blue Tick Hound
    Take to the beach was on your B List , not absolutely need to do?
    Poor Giuseppi I think you should move him to your
    Gold List – first thing in the morning. lol

    Enjoyed your article.
    Kathryn Maclean´s last blog post ..Articles

    • David Merrill 101 October 4, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

      Sorry, Kathryn, I don’t even take myself to the beach in the morning. I’m definitely NOT a morning person, at least not when it comes to physical activity. That’s all later afternoon stuff for me… and apparently for Giuseppi, too.

      I don’t think there’s such a thing as an “organizational freak.” Not in business, anyway. If you want to move forward, you have to organize yourself around key tasks. If you don’t, you lose. That’s really the only way to see it.

      The most haphazard, off the cuff people I know in business or entertainment or anywhere… are haphazard by very careful design, and fit it into a tightly organized campaign. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter… nobody ever hears about them.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Blogging To Make Money

  5. Lillian De Jesus September 27, 2015 at 7:30 pm #

    Hi David,

    Thanks for laying down how you work THREE to-do lists. I really work out 2 to-do lists and sometimes I think I’m a bit silly however now that you’ve worked it out the way you have it’s not so bad. I have my Urgent/Must Do List and To-Do List basically whatever doesn’t get accomplished on the Must Do list gets pushed onto to the To-Do List.

    I do feel the same way with getting most of the work done in the morning as I have the most energy then too.

    Thanks for your insight!
    Lillian
    Lillian De Jesus´s last blog post ..When Authority Becomes Your Visual Marketing Tool in 3 Impactful Ways

    • David Merrill 101 October 4, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

      Thanks for sharing what works for you, Lillian.

      I don’t really think it matters so much how many lists you have, what you call them or when you tend to them.

      I think the critical thing is to (1) make sure you do the 2 or 3 things you MUST do each day to move your business forward… do them without fail! … and (2) have some kind of list or spreadsheet or whatever where all you “must-do’s” are written in stone, and that you can refer to continually during your day.

      Other than that, work out a method, a system, a list style that keeps you doing that. I simply shared how I do it, not so people feel like they have to organize in the same way, but so they get the idea that they must organize in SOME way.

      Nice to hear from you!
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..List Building On My Mind

  6. Enstine Muki September 29, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    I love the “Gold List” David. I have been putting things this way but labeling them differently.

    Sometimes, some hot and quick business mails just pop in and make your “Gold list” a bit longer.

    There are some quick offers you can’t risk to push to the next day. You just have to give them top priority 😉

    Thanks for sharing with us how to be more organized to be more productive David.

    hope you are having a wonderful week
    Enstine Muki´s last blog post ..Top 4 cheap Managed WordPress Hosting Providers!

    • David Merrill 101 October 4, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

      I understand, Enstine, that urgent matters arise.

      The problem is, they arise all the time. I really think if you can create totally quiet space to work without ANY interruption (phone, fax, text message, messenger pigeon… and all the rest) ==> if you can keep all that out of your face for a solid hour, you’ll get more real, productive work accomplished. At the end of the hour, if you must, check all those things.

      I know we all have different types of businesses we run online, some are more client centered and clients come first, others are purely production where there’s very little distraction from clients… but no matter what business model, there’s just nothing that will help your business grow faster than having dedicated times to focus on productive work. Sometimes I get up a couple hours earlier than usual just to get that quiet time before all the bells and whistles start blasting!
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Getting Quality Backlinks To Your Blog

  7. Dan Ewah September 30, 2015 at 3:13 am #

    Hi David,

    I love the way you’ve categorized your list, you’ve made it easier to implement.

    I work a lot with to-do lists, but I’ve never thought of categorizing it this way.

    Thanks for sharing this here.

    Cheers

    Dan
    Dan Ewah´s last blog post ..14 Ways to Improve Website User Experience – INFOGRAPHIC

    • David Merrill 101 October 4, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

      Thanks for joining in on the conversation, Dan.

      I guess the important thing is to do the important things, first and foremost and WITHOUT FAIL. The best way for me, to make sure that happens is to keep my must-to list to 1, 2 or 3 things per day, and do them before all the other stuff gets into my day.

      But, we’re all different and each of us has to figure out what works best for them.

      Sometimes, like you say, a simple thing like categorizing things differently can make a big, big difference in your productivity level, and therefore… your profits.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..List Building On My Mind

  8. Theodore Nwangene October 1, 2015 at 2:55 am #

    Hello David,
    This is really very amazing, there is no doubt what’s so ever that having a simple to-do-list like this will certainly improve the users productivity level.

    I will try something similar for myself.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Theodore Nwangene´s last blog post ..125 Marketing Quotes from Top Bloggers

    • David Merrill 101 October 4, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

      It is amazing that seemingly tiny tweeks to your business can really have a major impact on your success.

      Of course, Theodore, we have to remember that “simple” doesn’t mean easy. It would be very simple for me to say I’ll start each day at 5 a.m. and immediately do a 42K run.

      That’s pretty simple.

      Just try doing it, though.. ha ha

      (apologies… and kudos… to those who actually do start their day with a 42K)
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..List Building On My Mind

  9. John October 2, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    I don’t primarily work from a list, but I do put some items on a list to make sure they get done.

    I just have one list on paper on my desk (at various times I have maintained it electronically). I would say maybe 25% of what I do is on the list. Most things I can just take care of without needing to keep track of it. But for important things, things I might forget or if something I normally don’t keep track of hasn’t been taken care of for awhile I add it.

    I also add reminders in my calendar sometimes (not just actual things that are scheduled, but maybe something like check with Mary about…). I find using the calendar to be very useful for some things.
    John´s last blog post ..Reverse Budgeting: Money that Must be Spent

  10. Sue Bride October 2, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

    Thank you for giving us so much detail here. I really see the importance of the Gold List and the fact you do these tasks first thing. I’m going to try it and avoid all the distractions that come from email and social media.

    I’ll use an Excel Spreadsheet to make it easy to add and move things around.
    Sue Bride´s last blog post ..How to Improve Your WordPress Page Speed Score

    • David Merrill 101 October 4, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

      Well, Sue, I put in a lot of detailed “to do” stuff because it an actual list I had. I wanted to give you a real-world view of how I condense a “real to do list” into my productivity flow.

      A lot of this stuff may seem trivial or overly planned to people who have never done it. I challenge anyone to actually DO this, and then tell me it doesn’t make a BIG difference in their business.

      A spreadsheet is a great way to do this… I personally get bogged down in techno so I use paper and pen during the day, then type it out on a simple Notepad doc. But, whatever you’re most comfortable with is what you should use. It’s all about end results production, not the exact format that it’s planned out on.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..6 Steps To Affiliate Blogging

  11. Dana October 7, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

    Hi David,

    First time here 🙂

    I like the way you have organized your lists. This is something I need to start doing.

    It’s amazing how easy it is to become overwhelmed with activities and details throughout the day.
    While I am grateful to have such a variety of (related) interests…and they all require some form of mastery in order to understand them, express them and create a business out of them – it becomes quite a task when there is so much to learn – and then take action on.

    It looks like I’ll have to really sit down, quiet my mind and give my priorities some thought.
    I do appreciate the tips here…and I’ll keep this on one of my Pinterest boards for easy reference.

    Thanks 🙂
    Dana´s last blog post ..I Was Over 200 Pounds…My Personal Weight Loss Story

  12. Deborah A. Ten Brink October 11, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

    David, you have many exceptional comments already, but I wanted to say that this has been very helpful for me as well.

    What a really appreciate about your lists and how you organize them is the psychology behind them. And, also, the results!

    You give permission for your lists to roll over to another day. I can be very hard on myself so I will learn to be more patient and forgiving. 😉

    Thank you for sharing the way you organize your day and your week. Very much appreciated!

    Deborah
    Deborah A. Ten Brink´s last blog post ..How To Choose The Most Effective Blog Categories

  13. Jacs Henderson November 13, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    Hi David,

    I love your List Strategy David and I work mine in a very similar way.

    One of the elements I have to use too is the flexibility one!

    We have a full-time business which has commitments to add in and then MY Business.

    So, I look at my business on a weekly basis and list my to-do’s then base my order, like you on Must, Moving on ( my creative projects, which involve all those elements that need learning, creation and piecing together… new site, membership area, free reports, funnels) and Maybe’s.

    There is something to be said for getting those quick-wins out of the way! something that takes little time but you feel so much better for doing, and it gets crossed off the list, like you updating your affiliate links in WSO.

    Depending on the complications involved, some things in moving on take longer than expected, so that list is more ongoing, and I work through systematically… often this is my evening pursuit when I can put all the other stuff aside and focus… that’s my favourite time 🙂

    It’s always so interesting to see how others plan their time, and I see many people as well as me have gained lots of insights from you sharing your To-Do lists, definitely a winning post!

    ~ Jacs
    Jacs Henderson´s last blog post ..Networking Superstars School… You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know!

  14. Donna Merrill November 15, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    Hey David,

    Great write up here. I know so well how you get things done with your to-do list. And…there is so much to be done in just one day.

    I like the advice you have given here because I too have done the same. Well I have to because we do many things together lol.

    But once we go off that list, we can get into overwhelm. This is why no matter what…we do have to keep ourselves on a steady schedule.

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill´s last blog post ..Does Story Telling Work On Your Blog?

  15. Joy Healey December 11, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

    Hi David,

    That’s a great idea – thinking about it I suppose I do something similar, but hadn’t really thought of it like that.

    If there’s a job I really hate the thought of doing, I tackle that as soon as possible to get it out of the way, and that’s such a relief.

    Then I go onto my “absolutely must” list, and always allow myself time during the day to clear some of the “secondary importance” list, because they’re often small tasks.

    The only thing I will say is that often my “absolutely must” work just starts at 6pm, because that;s when most of the distractions stop so I can really work at my best. I’m definitely not a morning person!

    Thinking about it, there are some jobs I let slip all too often…. will try harder.

    Joy
    Joy Healey´s last blog post ..Review Of Email Marketing Success by James McAllister

  16. Claudia Peevy December 19, 2015 at 8:11 am #

    Hi David
    Great idea with the multiple lists. I usually have two lists. I do the MUST DO’S first and then rewrite the other list to reprioritize ! I like your ideas better!
    Claudia Peevy´s last blog post ..6 FIGURE BLOGGING BLUEPRINT

  17. Iyabo Oyawale January 21, 2016 at 6:01 am #

    I found the segmentation of your to-do list helpful. The fact that you do tasks that add to the bottom line first is worthy of emulation. I’m glad I found your blog through Enstine Muki.

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