Is Your Task List Realistic?

One of my favorite things about the writer’s life is having the option to set my own goals, deadlines, and expectations … but sometimes I take it too far.

If you’re also eager to live the writer’s life, you might find yourself trying to pile too much on your plate.

Here’s how I make sure I have realistic expectations and never feel overwhelmed: I make two lists.

1. A Focus List – This list lives on my Google Calendar. It outlines all the projects that have deadlines or keep my business moving. These things must be done—no matter what.

Most of the things on my focus list now are for clients. But when I was starting out, I thought of myself as the client. So this list included setting up my website and practicing writing. Go here to start building your focus list, if you’re not sure what should be on it.

The key to making your focus list work is to schedule only one “must complete” task per day.

If you finish early, you can move on to the next project or tackle something on your “other list” …

Either way, you can relax knowing you completed the biggest task on your focus list.

2. The Other List – The rest of my tasks go on my “other list.” I organize them by putting the most important at the top. Then, each day, I dedicate some time to chipping away at this list.

The things on this list include creating passive income streams, writing posts for my blog, and things I want to research or learn. I don’t put these things on my main “focus list” because they would overwhelm me.

Action Step:

To put this into action today, start a list for everything that distracts you from your main goal. For instance, let’s say you decided to focus on finishing AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. But, then you read an article about romance writers …

You suddenly want to scrap all your hard work and change directions. Don’t!

Instead, write the distraction down on your “other list” to come back to later, when you have some free time … and then refocus on your original plan.

You may be surprised to find most of your distractions are just ways to procrastinate. Later—when your most important task is completed—those other distractions will likely fall off the list of things that have to be done.

I speak from experience when I say it’s easier to keep moving forward with a realistic task list. What do you think? Share it in the comments.

Tomorrow, I’ll share the method I use to get more done in less time—and how you can too.

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Published: January 8, 2014

6 Responses to “Is Your Task List Realistic?”

  1. The article is good advice for the list user... However...

    For some people--such as I--lists don't work for me.

    If an event is really important--I write it on my large calendar on the wall.

    Everything else I can organize in my mind as I am an extreme multi-tasker who can do several things at once and still get things done.

    The only lists I have kept were my photography clients info, publishers I sent my manuscripts to, and current possible copy write job opportunities.

    Laura S January 8, 2014 at 10:43 am

  2. I will definitely incorporate these suggestions. I'm overwhelmed with (writing) distractions because I work in multi-disciplines. I'm building a copywriting/online scriptwriting business, but I also blog write adult fiction, children's fiction, animation and prime-time spec scripts. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm curious, what is your copywriting business? How did you get your first client?

    Guest (Gayle Herbert Robinson)January 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm

  3. Ha! I know about lists. I used to make lists for everything; eventually, I had to make a list of my lists.
    I found a solution, though. I'm a pre-computer 'ol dude so an electronic list is just one more thing I don't want to keep track of. I fold a sheet of paper in half. Must dos go on one side and everything else on the other.
    All items get a number by priority. Once the item is completed, the number gets a big fat X. I love that part.
    On Friday afternoon, I make a new list for the following week and tear up the old list; that feels pretty good, too.

    StumpJanuary 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm

  4. Amen. I couldn't survive without my lists. They are active, evolving things that keep me on track and give me the sense of satisfaction I need to keep plugging away at everything I have to do. And prioritizing makes it work. Numbering the tasks in the order they must be done is key. If more than one are of equal importance, I number them according to the weight they are placing on my thoughts and feelings, making me feel very productive.

    Guest (Heather Morrison)January 9, 2014 at 9:03 am

  5. I love lists and I feel like you wrote this just for me and I will definately be using these great suggestions.
    I have been jumping from one thing to another and using all kinds of distractions to procrastinate which has me feeling overwhelmed and has kept me from moving forward.
    One of my main goals (besides getting my first customer) is to finish several major things, one at a time, no matter what. Great post!

    Sandra KnightJanuary 9, 2014 at 10:10 am

  6. Hello Christina,

    This is very helpful.
    I have a dry-erase project board in my office.

    There's a space for writing down tasks lists. I'll make this happen.

    Clyde McDade Marketing Wordsmith

    Clyde 777November 7, 2015 at 10:51 pm


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