Your 6 Most Important Things

There are about 5 kajillion different methods and systems for improving productivity. My favourite? It takes about 5 minutes, and the ability to write or type a list. Oh, and it will literally CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

I apologize for the all caps there–I don’t want to shout at you, but I cannot overstate the magnificent, transformative quality of this technique. It’s not sexy, it’s not flashy. But it is one of the most effective ways I know of, to take you from where you are to where you want to be. I touched on this in 10 Ways to Wake up Excited to Go to Work and I want to fully explain it here because I know how helpful it is. Do I use it every day? Pretty much… But when I don’t I realize it makes all the difference in the world. Without further ado:

First thing in the morning (or the night before), write out a list of 6 things you want to accomplish.Use this list to guide you throughout the day–try to not let other people’s agendas derail you from getting these 6 things done. It feels so good when you can check off every item before you go to bed. And if any items go unchecked, they should be at the top of tomorrow’s list.Is it that simple? Well, OK, there are a few guidelines to make it more effective:

  • Stretch: Your to-do items should be things you wouldn’t automatically make time for. No points for putting “wake up” or “brush hair” on the list.
  • Look at the Big Picture: Make each item something that brings you closer to achieving your bigger goals, with regards to health, relationships, money, work, or making a contribution.
  • Chunk it down: Break big tasks into smaller ones. Make each item doable before the end of the day, so you have a sense of satisfaction from completing it.
  • Balance: If you’re someone who never takes time out to play, laugh, or enjoy time with friends and family, you need to put this on your list! Staying balanced is critical for any entrepreneur. Not only is it important for your overall health and well-being, it makes you better able to handle challenges and think creatively.
  • Reward yourself! Celebrate those check marks by treating yourself in whatever way is meaningful for you.

For extra points: get an accountability buddy to make their own 6 Most Important Things list, and check in with each other at the end of the day. It sucks when you have to admit to someone you didn’t do what you said you were going to, and it feels awesome to brag that you actually did. Plus, you’ll be helping a friend get closer to their goals!

23 Responses to Your 6 Most Important Things
  1. Warren@Internet Marketing
    January 13, 2012 | 2:39 pm

    Hey Natalie I’m a total “List” guy, and have my daily one that gets filled in, in the morning and charts my day, but I also use a white board to keep another list of larger and more important “monthly” goals, and to date they’ve both kept me ten times more productive than I’d be otherwise.

    Have a great weekend!

    Warren@Internet Marketing recently posted..Manuel VS. Automated Link BuildingMy Profile

    • admin
      January 16, 2012 | 5:46 pm

      Hi Warren – sounds like you have a great system! I definitely like to keep track of larger goals as well.

  2. Stacy
    January 13, 2012 | 4:56 pm

    Hi Natalie,

    Those are all important things to make sure that we bring into each day. We will accomplish so much more by focusing on what really matters! Which of course includes stretching, balancing and rewards!

    Stacy recently posted..How to Unlock Your Full PotentialMy Profile

    • admin
      January 16, 2012 | 5:46 pm

      Thank you Stacy :)

  3. Jayne Kopp
    January 13, 2012 | 5:46 pm

    Hi Natalie, I love lists. The trick is to have just the right amount of tasks on it. It really sucks if there are more unchecked than checked but if you can just hit that sweet spot… it feels great to see the list get shorter.

    Hope you have had a great couple of weeks into this new year of ours! All the best

    Jayne Kopp recently posted..Are You a Forward Thinker or Stuck In the Past?My Profile

    • admin
      January 16, 2012 | 5:47 pm

      Hi Jayne – thank you, and same to you! And here’s to hitting that sweet spot…

  4. Easther Sudharta
    January 13, 2012 | 11:23 pm

    Great List you’ve got there Natalie.

    Balancing your life style is important,spending time with friends and family, which i think I need to do a lot more of :)

    thanks for sharing Nataile
    Easther Sudharta recently posted..4 Easy Way To Close a SaleMy Profile

    • admin
      January 16, 2012 | 5:47 pm

      Thank you Easther!

  5. Kostas
    January 14, 2012 | 8:09 am

    Having a list with your daily tasks is a must when you are self employed and you have an online business.

    I make a list everyday and additionally I make a weekly list of what I have to do every week, it works pretty well since knowing your short term goals keeps you focused…
    Kostas recently posted..The Fun of Coaching Frustrated EntrepreneursMy Profile

    • admin
      January 16, 2012 | 5:48 pm

      So true, Kostas – list-making is even more essential for the self-employed to stay motivated and on-track.

  6. Srinivas Reddy
    January 16, 2012 | 3:55 am

    Excellent post, Natalie. I make use of lists as well. Not sexy, but it works. I use my iPhone for this. Hey, would that make it sexy? :) You’ve made it simple and easy to use for anyone reading this, and I appreciate that. I agree with you on every one of these points: chuncking, the big picture, balance etc.
    Srinivas Reddy recently posted..Trust But VerifyMy Profile

    • admin
      January 16, 2012 | 5:49 pm

      Ha – thanks, Srinivas… never thought about it, but maybe using hip technology does improve the sexiness of list-making :)

  7. Catarina Alexon
    January 16, 2012 | 9:00 am

    Am also into lists Natalie, so needless to say I agree:-)

    Every morning or evening I think today/tomorrow I need to do x,y,z. And I do. Even if they are complicated things since I have made up my mind to do them. Like you I only put bigger issues from the bigger picture on my lists.
    Catarina Alexon recently posted..Is Iran stronger than the West believes?My Profile

    • admin
      January 16, 2012 | 5:51 pm

      Catarina, list-making certainly seems to be a common practice among the more successful people I know…

  8. Lilach Bullock
    January 16, 2012 | 12:14 pm

    Thanks Natalie:) I love lists and I love it when I do things the night before, I always wake up feeling energised and less stress about what’s in front of me that day.

    I wish I did this every day, as the days when I do do it there is a huge difference in my productivity and energy levels… just need to get in the habit of doing it every day:)
    Lilach Bullock recently posted..How to Use Affiliates in Internet Marketing 101My Profile

    • admin
      January 16, 2012 | 5:51 pm

      I know what you mean, Lilach – like I said, I don’t do it everyday, but I know I should! It really does make such a big difference.

  9. Joyce
    January 20, 2012 | 5:00 am

    This is cute list. Straight to the point.

    I make a list of three things i would like to do the night before. I have bold goals for my business and i need to have a plan in place to achieve them if not they are all hot air.

    You’ve just share some really cool points to stay productive.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Joyce recently posted..Oh Life Suck! How To Survive When Life Is Not Going Your WayMy Profile

    • admin
      January 20, 2012 | 12:07 pm

      Thanks Joyce! Sounds like you have a great system in place. I hope you have some fun, non-business goals too!

  10. [...] recently read a blog post by Natalie Peace, entitled Your 6 Most Important Things. For those of you not familiar with her, Natalie is a serial entrepreneur, hailing from Canada. As [...]

  11. Ed
    January 24, 2012 | 8:13 pm

    This was a great post — always good to be reminded of the value of making a list! I sometimes forget just how useful simple mind hacks like this can be. I shared this one with my blog’s readers.
    Ed recently posted..GTD: Your 6 Most Important ThingsMy Profile

    • admin
      January 24, 2012 | 8:14 pm

      So glad you found it useful, Ed – and thank you so much for sharing!!

  12. JosephJYoung
    January 27, 2012 | 5:47 am

    Hi Natalie,
    Great post and something I am making sure i do everyday now. A list of important things. Putting it in front of you is definitely one way to “hold” yourself accountable. It makes your brain think “there is something to do” so do it!

    Thanks for the share and reminder to get it done!

    JosephJYoung recently posted..Creating The Debt Free Christian Video 1: Success FormulaMy Profile

  13. Newscolumn
    April 24, 2012 | 8:48 am

    Hi Natalie… I like your post very much.. it’s sweet and simple…even though it’s really hard to apply in the real life. We need to be consistent in doing all those thing and the most important thing is we must put our goal clear.


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