Some things are quick, one-time things: you fill an order or you respond to a customer query.
But some things can’t be achieved in a few days or weeks: organizing all your finances for taxes, working with press, and writing a book.
These require tireless persistence, focus, and dedication. I have none of these things. Not. A. Single. One.
When I was on Adderall (prescribed for my ADD, not recreational), my lack of focus wasn’t so bad. But that made me irritable, and in the interest of keeping peace in the household, I had to give up the Adderall.
Enter: THE CHECKLIST OF DOOM
I’ve developed a weirdly non-technical way of managing these tasks over long periods of time, but it works, so now I am on something like version 8 of The Checklist of Doom. Every time, I refine it a little to account for my changing priorities and lessons I learned from the previous checklist.
Sometimes the checklist includes personal things, sometimes it includes only business, sometimes it includes fitness. It’s so personal both to the individual, and to the individual in that time. I have created a worksheet to create your own, since I love how fancy that is.
Here’s the philosophy behind the The Checklist of Doom:
We all have long to-do lists that we carry around with us, either physically or digitally. These are good for managing short-term tasks that can be achieved and crossed off.
The truly Great Things, however, require months of dedication.
Like eating an apple, if you try to shove the whole thing in your mouth at once, you’ll choke. The only way to eat the apple is bite by bite.
Accounting is the perfect example of this. How many of you scramble around for the week before taxes, frantically itemizing everything before you can send it to your accountant? (Probably more applicable to small business owners than W-2 employees.)
Not me. I exported my Profit and Loss (P&L) and sent it to my accountant in about 5 minutes. BOOM.
I also manage my press and retail contacts as items on the checklist, because there is no immediate reward for writing press (it takes literally weeks of follow-ups to even get a response, if you get one at all). Without the checklist, this activity feels endless and futile.
But they aren’t endless and futile. Press seems to be a numbers game, and to get one hit, you have to send about a hundred queries. But you still have to send that hundred queries. The checklist keeps you on task even when you feel most adrift.
Depending on your priorities, you might have to update Facebook and Twitter several times per week, whereas you only have to send out your newsletter every two weeks.
The checklist is cool with that.
I’ve created a couple worksheets to help you create your own Checklist of Doom. Sign up for my newsletter to get them:*
* Look, I know people use handouts like this as a lure to sign up for their mailing list, and this is absolutely no different. However, you don’t really have to download the worksheets to get the benefit, and the newsletter is really great, so… please sign up.
For complete instructions on how to create your Checklist of Doom, I created an instructional video: