Truth About To Do Lists


The Art of Less Doing


Lesson Info

Truth About To Do Lists

So in this segment which is part to creating external brain we're going to cover conquering your email big one uh getting rid of your to do list completely which is one of my favorite things thie evolution of the virtual assistant we're talking about how you can actually start outsourcing things, bring it all together and integrate it into something I call the human auto responder and then another concept that I came up with called being the brick breaker so we're going to go over all of that stuff now so as far as conquering or email a cz the people who are buying of course are enrolling that get the full access to that e book that I've written called female I have tea and virtual assistance which goes into an enormous amount of detail I'm not going to get into that level of detail here now especially if some of you are not really at your email ready to sort of make all these changes it's something that you have to sort of work through on your own time so I'm gonna cover kind of the h...

igh level stuff so the first thing is I touched on this before about the essential versus the optional right so that one is should be pretty clear at this point and having that optional folder makes it really easy to filter out the noise but the other thing in terms of conquer email really requires a paradigm shift in the way that you think about your email, so, as I said a couple times before it's, some of this stuff is not just about how you deal with that information as it comes to you, it's really about having those pathways at your disposal, knowing how you're going to deal with things and push them off into the right sort of channels as it works. So when it comes to email, there are three d's and those three days of the only three ways that you should be dealing with an e mail the first one is delete, so if it's no longer relevant or not relevant at all, or stammer, whatever, delete it completely just quickly deleted, and if it is something that you can deal with right now, then you deal with it was the first cities you don't want to be going back and forth of emails that I'm not back and forth between people, but in your inbox, you don't wantto see an e mail me like I'll get to this later, and then it gets pushed down the list and that it's gone that's what we don't want, we want you to deal with this stuff and move on, so delete or deal with, and then what's that third one, you should, um you're like a time limit that you should give it to that deal with it like so I'll give you ten minutes to deal with that right now well depends on what the task is honestly and you can start to figure that out but it really does depend on the task if it's something you can deal with right now in the next few minutes ten minutes is probably a good a good rule it depends on who you are you know if you can take a half an hour right now and deal with something being great if you only have two minutes they're still probably things that you condone deal with now so that third d is different so you can deal with it right now if it's the right time or you can defer it if it's not the right time and you would defer it using follow up dot cc, which we've already gone through in length but there's a difference between procrastinating and different procrastinating is simply pushing it off because I don't want to do it it's just moving in a way from now where is deferring is legitimately putting it off to a time that would be mohr effective for you to deal with it at that time and that's how we learn about these things basically your email becomes a very immediate and very actionable to do list in a way which brings up obviously an important point which is that to do this are very bad for you, at least in the current form the most love exists. So I am very, very much against to do us of surety pretty much any kind whether it's posted notes or google tests or wonder list or the worst case would be if you're using a whiteboard as to do with that is a very, very terrible use of a white of a of a white board to do list are anti productive, and we'll destroy you. So shutters throughout the internet. This is the problem with the duelist, and I'm not crazy. This is the reason for this. Okay, so a little history lesson in the nineteen twenties, there was a russian doctoral student in berlin. What the hell this is have to do with other less so blue maziar knickers, eager neck, depending on how you pronounce that was in berlin and she was at a restaurant one day, and she noticed that the waiters were very cognizant of all of the opened and checks, but they had completely sort of for gotten and had no recollection of all the clothes checks. So based on that, she created this sort of hypothesis that we have a different part of our brains that deal with open ended information. So that was the first part then she wanted to test out this theory and also see kind of what that meant. So she took two groups of students and let them study for an exam, and one group was left to study on their own, and the other group was systematically interrupted and not anything major, you know, simply opening the door, saying, how is everyone doing? You know, if you like some chocolate, something like that and, uh, the group that got interrupted did significantly better on their exams, then the group that had been left to study. So what she was able to do from this is sort of solidify this theory, which is now called the cigar net effect, and basically it's, this idea that there is this part of old nun idea, there is a part of our brains that deals with open ended, interrupted information, and we are more able to recall information from that part of our brains on a lot more easily and instantly that's one of the reasons why I am so big on you guys interrupting me throughout these things, because I can immediately jump right back into what we're doing even more effectively. So that addresses the question from before e there's a method to the madness, okay, so now you know what this ironic affected, but this is the problem to do lists so you take it to do us and all of you who are here I'm assuming are relatively busy people and everyone out there watching I assume you all have to do list and most of you may have a dozen things on your list or you have twenty things or fifty things I've seen to do list with one hundred fifty seven things on it the problem with the majority of the things on that list is that you can't do them right now you can't do them right now because either you're waiting on someone else to do something first but you have no control over maybe you do but maybe don't or it's too big of a project to do right now I have now seen seven times on seven different clients to do us right book right book is not a task it's not even really a goal if you think about it you know published book maybe they go but write book is not a task whereas right a hundred words that's a great task right one hundred write a page that's depend on who you are that's probably a good task to write book it's running out of page are not a reasonable task this is the problem you look at that list there's all these things you can't d'oh these things you're waiting on people that seems they're too big and all it does is remind you of everything you're not getting done right, so that should to do list to do list, and if you insist on having two duelists haven't not to do list because that's going to tell you all the things that you're not supposed to be doing right now and then you could just know that, but I actually don't even recommend that the to do list will destroy you, it's going to kill your morale, it's going to kill your productivity, you're going to have this thing called cognitive dissonance where you're trying to make two rights into our two wrongs into a right, because this wants you to do this stuff that you can't dio and it just throws the brakes running your productivity. So I'm here to tell you I'm here to liberate you. You do not have to have it to do list, you don't have to even worry about prioritizing the skill tto learn and toe work on is your timing. So we've referred to this before? There is a better time and a worst time to do everything in your life and the key, and I told you that we're going to build on everything I've talked about. This is about multi tasking. This is about focus, this is about ideas. The key is to be able to get that in front of your face at the time that you can deal with it. Do it and then move on and not think about it you know there's there's there's the saying carpet diem right but that's not the whole saying everyone should not carbon down means seize the day carpe diem is just the beginning of the whole sentence and it's it's uh uh carpet pm kwame minimum uh it's basically the whole thing I never remember this is latin but I remember what it says in english which is what's important for this basically it's seized the day and put little to no faith in the future that's what it really is about his carpet diem and that's what life is about in a lot of ways and that's what getting things done is about because you simply cannot divide the attention between what you have to do now and what you might have to do for the next forty days because all of that is on your to do list for most of you so being able to treat yourself like a single tunnel vision idiot and put something in front of her face at the time you can deal with it is how you can be more effective and that's how you can become better at the things that you need to dio by clearing out the noise giving yourself one thing to do and doing it at the right time and the reason that fall up that c c is so great as a tool for this is because it has that snooze functionality so what that means is that something comes in or I just set a reminder whatever it might be and I say you know what I think that friday at ten a m is going to be the right time to deal with this bill this paper was built whatever it is friday at ten am comes and it is a monday so I have my whole week I don't think about it at all things are happening life's happening friday morning comes along and I'm on a phone call that goes longer than expected and that email comes in at ten a m and I would say okay, well it's been a week and I'm closer to something I'm moved along farther and I'm still on this call I'm going to be done with this call in a few minutes so I can deal with it then or I can say you know what now that it's been a week and I've done all this other stuff I really have to be on this call for a while longer I actually realized that this doesn't have to be done till tuesday or I could say it doesn't meet until three pm today whatever it is but the point is eventually kind of circled the bull's eye and by doing that time and time again you got you start to get it right the first time so I just during the break was able to check a bunch of e mails and I have a clean inbox right now. I had ten emails when I got out here and it's totally empty now, and there are three things that I'm gonna deal with at the end of the day, and I forwarded them to seven pm followed dot cc because I know that that's when I'll be back in my hotel, I'll be in front of a computer and I can deal with the thing that I need to deal with, but there's no point in me seeing that again at the next break that we have, we're seeing it any time before that because I can't do anything about it and it's just clutter. So I understand that it's kind of a scary concept and if to get rid of you to do is completely but the way to do this is to start looking at that list and thinking, really thinking about when can I actually do this? You know, and think about the things that are on your list, you don't have to call it out because it's probably private, but if you think about those things that you have two d'oh and you really china trying to like, imagine this, I'm sure that most of you can think of a better time to do some of these things. Whether it's buying something that you have to buy for the house or whatever it might be or this person that you really need to get back to, you know, I've had people who tell me like, oh, this person wrote to me and I really wanted to write them a personal response, and then three months went by and it never got back. I'm sure right back from now, it's like, well, no, because it's pretty rude, you know, so it's not better late than never any more with the fact that think communication is so quick better late than never doesn't hold water anymore. You're better never than, you know, just say I'm too busy period or something, but it enables you to work on a very micro level and work a minute to minute on things and get hundreds of things done during the day instead of three things done, pausing for a fact if anybody has any questions because I know that one stars people up a little bit. So how do you make sure that the thing that you're doing in your day are actually working towards something? If you don't have, like, a little list? You get ae I don't have to do this but like I wake up well the night before I kind of have a note card and I'll say ok these are the sort of things that I kind of want to touch on that kind of block out certain times for doing those things but that's still like a to do list that moms to do this but I still like the little list well yes you know if you're telling me that you're blocking out times for them then it's not it's not just an outstanding to do list you've actually set aside these are the times I would do this and if you're telling me that end of the day you're not getting those things on that I would say maybe if to shift the times around but what you just talked about is great because you can set those times and then you don't have to look at that list again that's the point is that that time comes around and it comes to you and like okay now it's time to work on this okay yes uh what if we just keep deferring task and never get it done then it probably wasn't very important honestly I mean that's the truth if it needs to get done you're going to get it done even the worst procrastinator eventually we'll have to get certain things done right but you bring up a really good point I said this before that what someone thinks his urgent someone else might not think is urgent. What you think has to be done by friday may actually be able to wait three weeks, you know? And I'm not saying you should push things off just to push him off for fun, but having moved that needle a little bit and just sort of jumped in and made a little bit of progress, you start to realize that as you get closer to, even if there is an actual deadline, but as you get closer and closer to, you know, the event, you can realize that, oh, I can actually push us off even further and it's, not if you just do it day by day like tomorrow and see that's progress tonight, but if you actually say, well, I really think, you know, thursday, I'm gonna be on a train and I'll have an hour to do this like you can actually working out pretty well that way. Yes, are you know how much you like about that? I do something similar, like putting out a kind of kind of a two to do this for yourself the next day, like have a little note pad to keep with me and each night right out what I'm gonna do tomorrow and try to set aside a block of time but it sounds like you're doing everything electronically you put it so you like you have your own photo that c c maybe a ten o'clock you're going to like just abstractly do your laundry etcetera uh that's a reasonable one so like two things they're like how do you do you check your e mail so often that you know exactly what's coming up next or advisable so I did things that I check my email a lot it's a disruptive technology and we should use it to our advantage if you set up you know if you have loud alerts and you know whatever it is but yes, I do check my channel a lot on dh the reason that it's beneficial to do it elektronik lee also is because of that deferring ability but you really can't do with paper has effectively you could maybe move a post it note on a calendar but being able to just click a button you know, three hours or two days or a week it really allows youto learn the skill which is that timing so then if you have more laundry than you anticipated to a zoo down like he said, you get better as you go but on dh then one o'clock rolls around you're like oh I have two things that that I was going to do it but now you just for one to another day right? So you were wrong and you're learning that's really what it is and you say, well actually this task but see what you you know it's like thomas edison said that he figured out a thousand ways not to make a light bulb instead of failing a thousand times you learn that you actually need two hours to do your laundry or whatever it is. So rather than saying, oh, I didn't I was wrong about these other two things you're actually right in fact that you learned how long it takes you to do this other thing you want to comment on how sometimes people put things on their to do list that are important so I have this on my patio I have this furniture piece and I kept putting on when I wasn't is protective I would put move this into my garage and it kept I kept deferring and different and then I just got to a point where it was not important, so I just took it off, but who cares? Let the furniture sit there it's like I just was giving myself stuff that needed to be done, but it wasn't really important, so I'm pretty sure a lot of people do that they just see things that need to be done and then the list like piles up in piles up absolutely so that's an amazing point to make thiss drescher because again it's all about perspective you know it's really easy when you have that list of thirty things like oh my god, I have to get everything done but really there might be only one thing on there has to be that everything else is maybe it's optional or maybe it doesn't have to be done it all and that's a very fair point uh and it is important to the distinction between procrastinating deferring but if in deferring that you're learning that that tested need to be done, then the next time that comes up you can immediately say, well that's not something that I have to deal with it allows us it allows us the space tto learn about ourselves is what it really does to do list is so crushing I can't even tell you how I like it so I'm obviously gonna talk about nutrition at some point in this seminar but people have new lives when I get on your diet getting rid of your to do list is literally like getting out of prison for people you know it's like they've suddenly like been ableto think for the first time these two duelists are so horrible for your productivity that people end up making list upon listening palace and I want to be clear lists are not a problem checklists are great procedures are great but that's not a to do list that's really not and then for large projects I had mentioned before never know that I have that project folder and that's for the things that are sort of the big ideas or, you know, if I have an idea for a block post, I'll throw it in the evernote project folder because honestly, like today, if I came with walk was today, I wouldn't say to myself, you know, tomorrow nine o'clock I'm going to write this body parts because I don't need to, you know, I can wait till I kind of develops or bruise a little bit and a week from now I might go on every now and see that idea and saying that it's not good anymore it's not it's, not relevant or I may a week from now we go into that project boulder and say, okay, I think this is good and needs to be written and then I would say, okay, follow that cc to nine o'clock tonight, right this post so it really does give you that kind of head space that's what's so amazing about this stuff. Long term goals robert wants to know. How do you deal with keeping track of long range someday goals such as I'd like to go visit buenos a res me too, you can take me with you, we'll do a follow up si si on that, but do you figure out the best estimate of when you'd like to go visit or do you do like a follow up cc on june first? Let me check my calendar actually both ways work so first it personally for something like that for me, I do have a few destinations that my wife and I would like to goto and over the weeks or months I will collect things that relate to that, and I put those in every note. So those are the kinds of things, and I have gotten into the habit that when I have free time, I'll look in that projects folder of the evernote notebook it's just like the optional folder it's almost exactly like that, actually, because it's the stuff that you want to dio if you have the time, so when I find the time I will peruse that list and not a to do list it's just ideas that are out there so trip planning is right one for that, but another way to do that, especially with politics, you see, and I do do this is I'll have like an email, I don't do this for trips, but I'm trying to think what I do do it for I do have some have a good one actually for that, so I have a list of I've moved recently my wife and I have moved to lyle, and most of our friends are in new york, so this is gonna sound silly, but I have a list of friends that I really want to keep in touch with. And every two weeks, uh, I have a fall of nazi see that comes and reminds me of that list, and I sort of go through that I michael, whoever you talked to this week and who have a night and it does kind of give me a little bit of review just is like, a personal accountability that I want to maintain these relationships. So for something like that, you could have a list of trips that you'd like to go on and have that come every couple weeks, because you never know when it's going to hit a point where you can then do something about it and maybe break it out of that list and start working on it. Well, I won't comment on what all the time you're talking about there's an output call mailbox if you heard it that you know I'm not a fan, huh? Well, so okay, so it's a very specific reason. Mailboxes, actually beautifully designed app allows you to sort of the first things and analyze it, puts them off to a different time. It's iphone native and ipad native you can't use it from gmail you can't it works with female, but you can't use it in gmail, its platform dependent so I'm kind of begin stuff so that's sort of my problem with mailbox something like fall cut cc gives you a sort of ultimate flexibility to not only set any kind of time you want but also use it from anywhere. So the evolution of the virtual assistant there are two kinds of virtual assistance two kinds of virtual assistant offerings. There are dedicated assistance and on demand assistance, so a dedicated assistant is pretty self explanatory. It's you're basically going to the same person every time, every time you call or email you're going to dealing with john or chelsea or whoever it is and they get to know you and they have to learn your habits and they can know that you liketo have coffee at this particular place when you have meetings, whatever might pay, they tend to be a little bit more expensive but still very, very reasonable. Now it is. I have tested over twenty three virtual assistant companies over the past few years, and I have had good and bad experiences, but my favorite recommendation currently for virtual assistant company for a dedicated system is virtual virtual is based right here in san francisco, all of their assistance or in america and I think it's if they started like one hundred ninety nine dollars a month for ten our plan per month and I may be wrong about that, but they change things sometimes, so virtual is one uh the other is an on demand service so on demand services or where you're going to get a pool of assistance so you never get the same person, so fancy hands is my recommendation for that again, all assistance in america it's significantly cheaper because you don't have a dedicated relationship and there's some other benefits which I'll going to, but basically an on demand service means you're sending your task out and then one of hundreds or thousands of assistance can pick up the task, do it and move on. So if you are a extreme novice or an absolute expert with virtual systems, those two groups of people should be using an on demand service like fancy pants. It starts at twenty five dollars a month for five tasks and goes up from there and at twenty five dollars I can safely say that everybody that no matter who you are, you should have the experience of working with a virtual assistant at some point in your life it is an educational process for you not only delegating period, but if you're working on an on demand service and you have to give a task of possible importance and complexity to someone who you've never met, who you may never speak to again after this interaction, and who doesn't know how you do things that's a really interesting parameter to put on you in terms of how you effectively delegate that is an educational process if I've ever seen one. So the reason that it's so good for novices and experts is simple? A dedicated assistant works very well, sort of sort of that that middle area, where you need a lot more hand holding your needs more continuity, but if you're an absolute novice, then you can get in very cheaply and try it out and sort of dip your toe into the world of virtual assistance. But if you're an expert in virtual assistant usage, a on demand service allows you to have twenty four hour access, because it's multiple people, you get multiple skill sets because it's multiple people and you can issue a very high volume of tasks because it's multiple people so I could, you know, issue ten task to be done, and it fancy hands. Ten different people will pick them up right away, and maybe all ten will be done in the next hour, whereas if I gave ten task to my one dedicated assistant, he or she could definitely do them all, but they'd have to do one and then the next one the next one and it would take longer and then they have a work day obviously I average about two hundred tasks a month that is done by fancy hands and I actually what I should have put my screen up here but I think I've say it's something they have a whole tally, but I think I've saved something like eight thousand hours of time they've made over two thousand calls on my part sent over nine hundred emails and I think have saved me something like four, five thousand dollars actually give you the metric for all this stuff, so virtual systems will really, really changed the game and the question that people usually ask the first question is like, well, I wouldn't even know what tohave a virtual system to have had several people who told me that they've signed up for a virtual assistant and they never used them it's like I've been paying for it for four months, but I never houston it again. It's one of the few to start it's like no task. Honestly, no task is too small for a virtual assistant because getting you out of the mindset that you're in tow then do that thing that you could possibly outsource it's not worth it and I will sometimes go so far as to have a virtual assistant do a google search for me because of a very specific reason google personalizes results. So any one of us in this room could search. All of us could search for the exact same thing. And all of us, we probably get different results, especially if it's anything relating to you, you know? So if I search for my name, I'm gonna look like a rock star when it comes up. But if one of you, sir, just remind him, I might be like the seventeenth result on a page, it really does work that way. So, uh, having virtual systems gives you that different perspective on things, too, and they have these skill sets that you just might not have, especially with someone like fancy hands. You can have somebody who used to be a bookkeeper. And now it's, a single mom working at home and and acting is virtual system. Or you could have somebody who used to be a, uh I have had someone who was a blind window blind installer, and the task that I had asked about was how to do a window blinds. And he was really, really knowledgeable in terms of getting the best price on that stuff, so getting to use virtual assistance is sort of the last piece of the puzzle.

Class Description

Get ready to learn a proven way to optimize your productivity. 

In this course, achievement and efficiency expert Ari Meisel explains a systematic way for accomplishing the things you need to do so you can open up more time for the things you want to do. You’ll learn to optimize, automate, and outsource both personal and professional tasks. 

Ari will help you identify which tasks are monopolizing your time and help you build strategies to make those tasks less time-consuming. Ari will also cover simple strategies for getting through everyday responsibilities like errands and paperwork more quickly and efficiently. You’ll also learn about applying the same level of efficient prioritization to your personal life, including how to approach health and fitness in a more streamlined way.

By the end of this course, you’ll be on your way to an easier, organized, balanced way of living.


Amy Cantrell

Lots of great info! I love the concept of getting ideas out of your head, leaving your mind open to new ideas, and using Evernote to keep ideas and notes organized. The email tips alone could be worth the price of the class. Creating your own work week, tackling difficult tasks when you are at your best, making smart use of your time, progress begets progress, all good stuff!

Gina Bégin

I've already recommended this course to a number of people and followed up with Ari's team to go even further — though, sincerely, there is so much incredible depth in this course that if you're just starting out or in the midst of optimizing your workflow and cleaning up your "plate" of tasks, you will be blown away. He discusses great ways to use automation (IFTTT, Zapier) and how to make better use of Evernote, tricks to ... well, pretty much increase productivity in every aspect of life from health to work. I research this stuff all the time, but had no idea there was so much more out there. Well done, Ari.