To-Do List for Success in a Digital World

notebook, pencils, coffee

Let’s start with the most important drivers of success in a digital world—you and your digital practice. Take a minute to think about your daily habits and workflow. What helps you get through the day and make the most of your time and energy? Are your favorite methods old school? Or have you shifted towards digital?

You probably have a number of tricks up your sleeve, so let’s use the humble to-do list as an example. A to-do list is great for keeping up motivation throughout the day or for keeping a large project on track. The basic idea is simple:

  • figure out what needs to be done
  • keep a record
  • do it
  • cross it off
  • move on to the next item.

Do you make lists? If you do, you’re in good company—writer and visionary Ray Bradbury revealed that making lists boosted his creativity. Perhaps you just love making lists for that feeling of accomplishment when you check something off…

notebook, pencils, coffee

The blistering pace of technology-driven change won’t let up anytime soon and it’s a safe bet we’ll need technology to keep up and to-do lists to cope. Whether the thought of all that change leaves you excited, resistant, or reaching for aspirin, we’re here to help. Now let’s talk digital success.

To-Do for Success

If you want to increase your success in a digital world, you’ll need to leverage technology—you can bet the competition will. Developing a successful digital practice that relies on technology is actually more about you than about the technology.

It’s essential to focus on your own ways of being and working BEFORE turning your attention to specific tools or technologies. No matter how useful a technology or tool may be, you’re the one who has to make a commitment to work and live differently if you want to reap the benefits.

There are 2 things you can count on going forward: 1. a changing digital world 2. you’ll need to change the ways you live and work if you want to succeed. Your success will depend on developing a Digital Practice that works for you, and that Digital Practice will be shaped by your relationship to change as much as by your relationship to technology. When it comes to making a change that will improve your life and help you reach your goals, consider:

  • your past experiences
  • how you frame the presenting challenge
  • the benefits of making a change, and
  • what switching to a digital tool or method can do for you in the long run.

Making a change starts with what you know. Whether or not you rely on making to-do lists in your daily work, you can ask yourself how going digital with a daily habit or trusted work method would make your life easier. Incorporating a new tool into your Digital Practice can take time and require you to power through a learning curve, so it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize—especially on the days when it all seems like too much effort.

Making To-Do Lists & Making Change

Change comes easy to some people, but others need a bit more support. Adopting digital tools that let you improve on a trusted method becomes easier when you add a bit of structure to the mix. Even though I’m using a to-do list example, the same process works very well when you need to add different types of digital tools to your workflow, life, or professional practice.

Experience: I like lists. Lists help me get things done. I want to be environmentally responsible so I started writing down tasks and making lists on scrap pieces of paper. Bonus, it’s cheaper than buying notebooks. Problem is, I lose the damn things on my desk, in my purse, and in my pockets.

Challenge: Stop making lists on sticky notes and scraps of paper that I can lose. Find a digital solution that makes my life easier. Make the switch.

Benefit: Digital to-do lists will let me access my to-do lists in different situations and on different devices (phones, tablets, computers, on the Web), collaborate with others, reduce paper, and put an end to list-loss.

Starting with a habit that works (recording tasks and making lists) and then taking it digital helps you stay motivated by connecting the familiar with the unfamiliar.

standing in front of an arrow

5 Key Steps for Adopting New Digital Tools

Different digital tools have different features and work with different devices so you’ll need to:

  1. determine what features you need right now,
  2. do your research,
  3. test the best options,
  4. commit to adopting the new tool,
  5. make a habit of using the tool.

1. Determine what you need right now. What do you need to do? In what situations? Using what devices? Think about features, options, cost, ability to collaborate, or whatever else matters to you.

It can be tempting to hold out for the perfect solution. Resist. It may take years for your best-case solution to become a reality, in the meantime you still need to address the challenge.

Embrace the best fit rather than waiting for a comprehensive solution. The app universe lets you find solutions for specific needs—think of it as choosing several basic tools you can trust rather than using up your resources on 1 fancy multi-tool.

2. Do your research. You might ask a colleague which tool they like or you could just ask the Web by searching for ‘to-do list app reviews’. Once you find reviews of to-do list apps or more info about a specific recommendation, you can figure out which available solutions will best meet your needs.

3. Test the best options. No matter how great a tool sounds, it’s useless if it doesn’t work for you in-real-time. When you’re faced with balancing current ways of working with the need to incorporate new tools, testing is essential.

Testing should be all about you.

Go to the website or your app store of choice and try-out your top picks. You can test one at a time or test a couple simultaneously. Remember that you’re not making a commitment yet, you’re testing. Tread lightly rather than entering a ton of information that you’ll lose when or if you change your mind. As you evaluate a potential tool:

  • Consider the available features and options. Will it do what you need?
  • Can you live with how it looks?
  • Imagine how the tool will fit in your workflow.
  • Use each tool on your short list until you decide if it will work for your needs.

4. Commit to adopting the best tool for you. Focus on the benefits and remind yourself of specific ways that making this change will make your life easier. Re-imagine your workflow by asking how you can benefit from adopting a particular tool. Hold a picture of successful change in your mind and compare it to your past experiences. If making the change to digital is worthwhile, it’s time to commit.

5. Make a habit of using the tool. Adopting a new habit takes time and perseverance. Reminding yourself that it will make your life easier in the long run is good, but adding some discipline is even better. Identify times of day or particular circumstances when you would benefit from using the tool and incorporate it into your daily workflow.

Reinforce the change by using the Web to improve on your trusted method. Learn how to make a better to-do list for example. Did you know that making your to-do list weirder may lead to greater productivity? You can also find inspiration from the ways that other people are using your new tool (look for user success stories on company websites, in reviews, or on other blogs).

Once you commit to adopting a new tool and use it regularly, you’ll soon decide whether or not it will work out. If you feel indifferent about the whole thing it’s time to revisit your past experiences, challenges, and the benefits of making a change. Something about that frame of reference may need to shift, you may end up waiting for a better solution after all, or you may decide digital is not for you.

It’s important to accept that there is no “one and done” option when it comes to digital tools or your Digital Practice. Innovation, hardware changes, the Web, customer needs, and business goals all guarantee that there will be better options in the future. Make a habit of picturing yourself making changes in the future—even if it means leaving a tool you love—when a better option comes along.

In the end, your digital success will depend on:

  • making use of tools that work for you
  • developing a flexible relationship to change, and
  • taking a systematic approach to your digital practice.

If you need help making changes, I’m here for you. Give me a shout, 202.630.3756 or jo@chaostoclarity.com and we’ll transform your Digital Practice.