Time Management Tips: Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work

Do you feel like you never have enough time in the day and your to-do list is never ending?! If you answered yes, then you need to watch this week’s video!



Hey restaurant owners, operators, managers and highly motivated employees! Today’s video is all about to-do lists. The challenges with them, why I don’t like them, and why to-do lists don’t work when you’re trying to get more done. Today kicks off a video series on how to get more done in the restaurant and shares some different tools and techniques that I use myself and with my clients.

Issues with To-Do Lists

To-do lists just don’t work! One of the big reasons why (and why I’m not a huge fan of them) is because we usually don’t start projects that we can’t finish. If you’ve got this list of items that you want to work on today, you will usually go through and prioritize the work that you can actually finish. You think you’ve got this really cool master plan but what you actually do is move items you didn’t finish today to tomorrow and you think you’ve cracked the code. Wrong!

I used to think that I would check off some things on my to-do list and then the next day I would put the items I didn’t do at the top of my list. But what I found is that projects that we don’t have time to do, we just don’t start. In particular, the bigger projects. We just keep moving on the next to-do list until those projects become important and urgent (which we’re going to talk a lot more about important vs urgent in the next video). When something is both important and urgent, it gets all of your attention. You wind up pushing things off until eventually you can’t push it off anymore. It’s due, there’s a problem or it has to happen now, and then you start to feel that pressure and you start doing it. 

The BIG piece of advice that I want to give you today is work on planning your day a week in advance. What I mean by that is plan out what you’re going to do on what day and when you’re going to do it (day and time) a week in advance. Think of this like going to the grocery store hungry. If you’ve ever gone to the grocery store hungry you know what happens…a Snickers bar, some candy, a bag of chips and that frozen crispy chicken wind up in your cart. They are delicious but they’re not good for you and probably not on your shopping list. You buy things like that when you go shopping hungry. But if you have a list and planned ahead of time what you’re going to eat on which day of the week then you go to the grocery store prepared (also, not hungry is a good idea and then you only buy what you need). You don’t spend as much money as you would when you’re impulse buying as well.

To-do lists in my opinion are very similar. They’re a small step better than not having one at all, and if you don’t have one right now it might be a good step for you to have a to-do list. But for those of you out there who are suffering from having to-do lists and still not getting everything that you want to get done, I encourage you to try planning out your week more in advance.

I’m just barely scratching the surface in today’s  video. I promise we’re going to get into this in much more detail in the following videos. Next week we’re talking about the difference between urgent and important tasks, then we’re going to talk about how to set up your calendar, then we’re going to talk about something I call the Incredible Shrinking Calendar, which is pretty cool, and lastly we’re going to end this series on how to avoid the time sucking vampires – the distractions or the people that completely get in the way of you finishing everything that you need to do. Today was just to sort of blow up this mentality that to-do lists are the end all be all or the best way to schedule your day. I look forward to bringing you in next week’s video. Have a wonderful day! Remember, systems = success.


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