Jan 30, 2023


by | Jan 30, 2023

Your to-do list could be sabotaging your productivity. It’s not just that your to-do list is too long — it’s what’s on there. 

Let’s talk about the difference between a goal, a project, and a task. 

When I ask entrepreneurs, “What’s your goal for this quarter?”

They say:  “A new website!” “Start a podcast!” “Get a speaking gig!” 

When I ask, “What’s on your to-do list?”

 “A new website!” “Start a podcast!” “Get a speaking gig!” 

But these things aren’t really goals or to dos. Getting really clear on the difference between goals and projects and tasks can boost your productivity. 

Goal, Project, or Task? 

Your goal is your why, your reason you’re doing what you do. Goals should inspire you. 

Projects are the way we reach our goals. If your goal is to reach a larger audience with your message, you might launch a podcast or get a speaking gig. There are lots of different projects you could focus on to reach a goal. 

Tasks are the individual steps that make up a project. If  “launch podcast” is your project, don’t put it on the to do list. You want to break it down to all the little steps that go into launching a podcast. If you sit down to work and your planner says “Launch podcast,” what are you going to do? If your planner says, “research and order a microphone” or “brainstorm guests to interview” or “write landing page,” you know what to do with your time. 

Get clear on your goal and choose your project. Then brainstorm all the steps that you need to do to finish that project. Tasks are all the individual steps that make up a project. Tasks are what go on your to do list. Then you schedule specific tasks into specific slots of time on your calendar. (Hint: Use Focus Sessions to eliminate distractions when you turn to your tasks.)  You can focus on exactly what you need to do, start checking those things off, and moving your projects forward. 

Tighten the Lens  

Sometimes we have a bunch of projects that are clumped together. If you are going to launch a book, you can really break that down into a few projects: Write the book, Edit/Revise the book, Publish the book, Promote the book. 

Each of these projects has a lot of tasks related to it. Maybe you still keep Launch Book as an umbrella, but map out each part separately. And don’t forget to celebrate the completion of each part! 

We do the same things with tasks. 

If you feel overwhelmed when you look at your to dos or can’t seem to get traction on them, maybe you need to tighten the lens or break things down a little more. 

Say you are working on a book and Revise book is on your to do list. I’d look at that again and again and think, “I don’t have time for that right now” and avoid it. What if the task for today was Revise chapter 1 or Revise 10 pages? That feels like something you can actually do, especially if you get really real about time. Then at the end of the day, you can cross something off your list. Success. Dopamine hit. What’s next? 

Instead of dragging that project or that too big task around day after day, week after week, you start to get things done, build momentum, and keep things moving forward. 

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Ready to Focus?

Sign up here to get your FREE Focus Session.