How to Use To-Do Lists to Achieve Ultimate Focus

    By | Small Business

    Several years ago, I read a book that changed the course of my life. It immediately altered the way I thought about myself, my time and how I needed to interact with the world. That book was “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. Since that time, I have attended numerous personal development seminars, taken those more successful than myself out to lunch and dinner to pick their brains and immersed myself in the world of real estate.

    The single most important thing that I have learned from all of this is that the extent of your success is completely dependent on YOU. It’s all in your daily habits — the attention that you place on your goals and the steps needed to reach them. A large part of this focus is planning, of course. But more importantly, keeping a daily to-do list to assist in steering the ship. Now, many of the gurus will attempt to sell you books, courses and motivational CDs that you will probably never read or listen to, but the message is the same: do anything necessary to keep yourself on task.

    In my office, I use basic whiteboards and label the lists based upon the degree of importance. I also carry a plain legal notepad that is constantly evolving. I personally have four lists. Here’s how they work:

    Keeping 4 To-Do Lists

    1. URGENT: This is on the whiteboard above my head. This is the do-or-die list that gets updated daily. These are things that need to happen quickly to move projects forward.
    2. PERTINENT: Thisis on the whiteboard to my right. This is a list for “bigger picture” goals. It’s more long term and follows a weekly and monthly timeline. These items directly affect the business, but need other steps to be completed to be crossed off.
    3. CALENDAR:This is on my MacBook. This is the daily grind. Scheduled meetings, telephone calls, daily online posting schedules and even my exercise routine are on here. My team shares this and knows when I am available or what meeting we have at any given moment. They get a notification when it changes.
    4. NOTEPAD: This is next to my laptop on the desk staring at me all day. Normally, I have 20-30 items at any given moment. I cross them off when complete and add items as they come to light. There are never enough hours in a day to complete this to-do list, but personally, I like it that way. I always keep adding more and more. On an average day, I might execute on 5-7 things on my notepad. The next day, I will add another 5-7. It’s just a never-ending cycle that I love.

    Using Lists to Increase Focus

    On Monday morning each week we have a company meeting and go down the lists of items on the boards. We all compare lists, take notes and give updates. This is a fun and intense time because we always have new lists and leave the meeting with all sorts of things to focus on for that week. Each member of our team has a whiteboard next to their desk and carries a notepad.

    The goal of these lists is constant focus. They haunt and drive your activity every moment of every day. I even have a whiteboard on the inside of the bathroom door to serve as a reminder. Also, just in case something comes to mind, I can quickly write it down.

    At home, we have a whiteboard in our kitchen that includes broad business and personal family goals. Realizing that these two are intimately related is really what pushes me to work so hard — I don’t plan on working this hard forever.

    Reading this you may think that it’s really simple. And it is. The problem most people have is sticking with it. It’s easy to give up or to make an excuse — or to just skip it for one day, which usually becomes many more. I have also found that the more complex you make something, the less likely you are to actually do it. I try to keep everything I do very basic, clear and duplicable. I want my team to do it, too, and become committed to their own success.

    Consider this my contribution to your success. Start today and see how far you can go.

    A version of this post originally appeared on the BiggerPockets blog here.

    Engelo Rumora “The Real Estate Dingo” is the CEO/Founder of Ohio Cashflow. To date. Engelo has been involved in over 300+ Real Estate transactions along with successfully founding and running 3 businesses: Ohio Cashflow, Rumora Construction & a venture capital firm called Venticap. To get in contact with Engelo, please click here.

    The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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