Sunday, May 1, 2011

Your “To-Do” List May BE the Problem! A Theory of Constraints Lesson

You know that song by Sugarland called All I Want To Do? There’s a line in it that goes something like “I got better things to do than my to do list anyway …”

Every time I hear that I just think – then you’re not doing your “to do” list correctly!

I know, I know – I’m weird. But, I think it’s true for a lot of people.

The traditional way of making a “to do” list is to brain storm all the things we need to do. But that is NOT how we do it in Theory of Constraints (TOC).

To make sure that you don’t have better things to do than your “to do” list, don’t use the brain storming method. Instead, understand what you’re trying to achieve and ask “What’s keeping me from that?”

List each obstacle to your goal, the result you’re after or to completing your project (depending on your situation). What it takes to overcome each of those obstacles is what you want on your “to do” list. That way you are only doing what needs to be done to get the result and aren’t getting side tracked by doing (or procrastinating doing) what really isn’t necessary to get the result.

In this way you will end up with a list of things “to do” that, when completed, should be getting you closer to your goal or whatever it was that you’re trying to achieve.

Too often when we brain storm, we put “to dos” that really are NOT needed to get the result we are after. This just delays the result.

Can you think of a time you brain stormed a “to do” item that really didn’t need to be done? Let me know by leaving a comment on this post.

Wishing you success.,

Dr Lisa
President, Science of Business

P.S. For those of you keeping score at home this is part of the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes and it's how we build a Prerequisite Tree (PrT).


Don Scott said...

In brainstorming I have always thrown everything onto paper. Only afterward that is done do I review the list and set priorities. If the item does not rank with the other tasks, it is relegated to a backburner or someday status.

Khaleel said...

So true. Most of the time the to-dos are created with 'keep 'em busy' syndrome.

Dear Dr. Lisa,

I have a question on service industry. How do I get in touch with you? Please let me know.

Thank you!

Dr Lisa Lang said...

Hi Khaleel,
Assuming your received this post in an email, just reply to that email and your reply will find its way to me.
Dr Lisa

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