I recently heard an interesting podcast by a top entrepreneur and business coach where he discussed the ways he gages people to invest in. As it seems, if they don’t present like the kind of people that are “mature enough to make their bed everyday”, he won’t invest in them by giving that person start up capitol, or a head position in one of his companies.
This made total sense to me.
You know that part of a job description where “responsible” and “detail oriented” is inevitably listed? Employers mean that, and hopefully you do to if it’s in your executive summary. Yet what this particular interview was attempting to articulate is that anyone can say that that they have a natural ability to make a “conscious effort to understand cause and not just effect”, yet if that same person is late to the meeting because they ran out of gas, odds are being detail oriented doesn’t come naturally to them.
Employers, business prospects and other people can tell if we are the kind of person to tend to the details simply by observing how we process through life. It comes out in our stress levels because a ton of tiny naggy things are a burden. It comes out in how we present ourselves and in the things that we say; “I meant to”, “I forgot”, “I didn’t have time”. Some of the wealthiest and most accomplished people that I know with big families, big companies, and many responsibilities I’ve never heard say any of those things. They’ve mastered the details (and delegation!), because that’s how the big picture is built, one small detailed piece at a time.
Allow me to add the disclaimer that sometimes we go through a phase in life where we just do not have it together. This can be because of a trauma, major change, or any variety of human afflictions that can happen in our lifetime. In any case scenario, what I’m about to share will still help.
Always willing to be an example of what I’m preaching, below is my current “little things to-do list”;
- Changing the battery in one of my truck’s key fobs
- Researching how to recycle the 3 old unusable saddles taking up space in the tack room
- Dropping off my horses’ winter blankets for cleaning
- Dropping off a skirt and shirt to the tailor for repair
- Printing all of my past lecture materials & having them bound
- Replacing the battery in my wireless doorbell
- Re-caulk the tub and repair a piece of trim by door
As you can see, these are truly very small things, yet if left unchecked they can become very annoying, or even costly. For instance, standing as close to my truck as possible pressing the button a million times until it finally unlocks or locks is a time waster. Not having the zipper replaced in my skirt means that I can’t wear it, and removes my only black pencil skirt from wardrobe rotation.
Other things like waiting until last minute to have my horses’ blankets cleaned may mean waiting up to 8 weeks for them to be done due to a backlog. The longer the back log, the greater the chance that I’ll have to purchase new blankets as we get closer to cold weather.
So when you stand back and take a real look, you see that the little things actually add up to a decent cost of time and money that can be allocated elsewhere. The small tidbits of life are easily overlooked, and sometimes we don’t even notice that they need to be done until it’s unavoidable that we take care of them. So what’s a better way?
Easy Ways To Stay On Top Of The Little Things
Brain Dump: This is one of my favorite things to do as I learned this from numerous successful people that I admire. This gets every little thing that is in your mind down on to paper. Don’t number anything, and don’t worry about logic. Simply scan each area of your life and get what’s inside your mind out into the open.
Divide to conquer: One the same sheet of scratch paper, or the same word doc, divide up what is a one time task, and what is a reoccurring task. Save the list of reoccurring tasks for later and concentrate on the “one time only” tasks for right now.
Keep a running list: For the one time tasks, list them all on a running list to be kept in a permanent location; notebook, computer file, etc.. If you can, place them in order of priority or likeness. (PREVIEW: In an upcoming post I will show you my home management binder as that is where my running list is kept so subscribe!)
Batching tasks & travel: Take any similar tasks and plan to complete them together. Need to detail your car and get the oil changed? Plan on doing it the same day.
Actionable steps & Time budgeting: Can something be done in 30 minutes? If you were to invest one hour right now how many tasks can you fully complete? Start setting aside a time in your planner to take these on.
Also, if you notice that in your weekly errand travels you can add in a stop or two to get things done then do it! I plan on taking a 20 minute side trip to the tack store this Saturday to drop off the blankets. I will be in the general direction and I can group this task with three other area stops. There is rarely a need to make a special trip for a “small things” errand
Complete the tasks: All the pretty lists in the world mean nothing if the buck stops there. It will take discipline but working the list is what creates accomplishment.
Automation: Place anything that you can on auto for your reoccurring and running list going forward. Investing 30-60 minutes once to set up an automatic withdraw is an investment in gaining time on the back end. Some examples of this are to make your next hair/doctor/dentist appointment as you are checking out. (Immediately put it into your smartphone/day planner) Open a separate account for all quarterly bills to be automatically deducted from. Place your vehicle’s scheduled maintenance into the aforementioned calendar and set a reminder timer for when you are drafting your monthly budget.
Keep adding to your list: Understand that taking care of details is a habit that takes practice and cultivation. Adding an hour per week into your time budget to get these little tasks done is the only way to keep up as you’re never “done”.
(Right Click to Save to Your Computer)
In the grand scheme of life, these little tasks are just part of us living our earthly life. They give us practice for the bigger things and the experience of appreciation when they are all done. We all have the ability to accomplish a lot in a 24 hour period, it just comes down to how we spend our time. One of your most valuable resources is our attention. Using discernment here means that the little things will be less likely to stack up against us as we cut out what no longer deserves our notice. Will it sometimes be dreadful? Maybe. It will if you think it will be. Does that make sense?
This post was born out of sheer necessity. Over the past week or so I went 50 mph to 100 in terms of the rate of things to do coming at me. Compound this with the slight grief that I feel that summer is nearly over. All in all, I refuse to live from a checklist without living in the moment while doing it. The little things are important and the slower that I go, the better and seemingly quicker things get done. I need to remember this when I start to panic and feel the weight of what is going on around me.
In the end, taking care of your basic life operations makes for a very healthy existence that opens up so much room for possibilities and it can all start just by changing batteries.
Until next time, be well.
So tell me, just how long is your “little things” to do list?