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Jeff Matlow
November 08, 2018

Be more productive - Listen to MOM

You've got a lot to do. We all do. So much to accomplish and never enough time to do it all.  

LongToDoListIf you’re like many people, you probably have a long list of things you want to get done and day after day you get side tracked and maybe, if you’re lucky, you cross out one thing from that list, but add three more.  It’s like a carousel that never stops.

There are two big problems with this:

  1. No sense of accomplishment:  if you always have more to do, it’s hard to feel like you got anything done.  
  2. Lack of strategic focus: continuously trying to put out fires can cause you to lose sight of the big picture.



People tell me that they don’t understand how I get so much done.  Though that’s nice to hear, I too believe that I can do more.  And so in my continued desire to be more and more productive, I’ve delved into organizational theory.  I want to share a couple of these ideas with you because, well, I’m writing and you’re reading.

There are many different theories about organization. Of course there's the tried and true checklist method, there's the "wing it" philosophy and there’s the "sit around and wait until somebody tells you what to do" tactic.

But, frankly, all of those will lead you to the same place of feeling no sense of accomplishment.  

On the other hand, there are two organizational methods that I've found to be the most valuable in getting off this carousel:  GTD and Covey’s Quadrant

GTD Book - Getting Things Done (or GTD for the hipsters out there) is based on the book of the same name, written by David Allen.   The book talks about how to break down your to do list into essentially two elements:
  • Overall projects you need to accomplish
  • The steps needed to complete each project. 

Then every day you select the 3-5 most important steps you can accomplish that day to help you in completing the projects.

7 Habits Covey- Covey Chart is based on the four quadrant philosophy of Stephen Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  Basically everything is broken down into one of four priority levels: 
  • Important and Urgent
  • Important and Not Urgent 
  • Not Important and Urgent, and 
  • Not Import and and Not Urgent

You spend 1-2 hours each morning on the Important and Not Urgent, then spend the rest of the day on the Important and Urgent.

So which method do I use?  
Actually, neither.  
More accurately, both.



I’ve merged the two into my own way of organizing my day. I call this Matlow’s Organizational Methodology - or MOM

When I listen to MOM, I stay focused on doing the right tasks.  When I adhere to what MOM says, I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.  When I follow MOMs advice, I don’t sacrifice strategic growth for being a fire putter outer.  When I follow MOM’s orders, I feel like a better person.

As a leader, the ultimate goal of organization is to focus on the things that are most critical for the growth of your business. These are often different than the most important things you have to do in any given day. A single days top priority could very well be something like fixing your internet connection. Though a top priority and must-do for the day it is not an overall strategic goal for the company. 



Let's do a simple exercise:

Write down one thing you want to accomplish in the next 6-12 months to grow your business. It could be anything. Let's say it's "get a title sponsor"

Now right down the steps you have to take to get there. It could be things like:

  • outline current sponsorship activation opportunities
  • Create new activation channels
  • Define the selling point of the organization
  • Define available categories
  • List targets in each category
  • Prioritize targets
  • Create sponsor deck
  • Research targets to assess real opportunity
  • Find contacts for warm introduction to Target
  • Etc 

to do listPut each of the tasks in order of how they need to be done (eg you can't contact a Target sponsor until you figure out who they are). If you have a specific deadline for completing your goal write that down too. 

Now take the top item on that list and put it on your checkbox to do today. 

Add 3-5 other things to your today list. 

Now get those 4-6 things done today before you do anything else. 



There is of course a lot more to it and I encourage you to either read the books or listen to them on Audible at 1.5x speed while you run, like I do. 

With that said, let me tell you what MOM has me doing every day.

1.  The application.  I use an application that supports the GTD philosophy.  This is my task list - not just for the day but forever.  There are a few programs worth reviewing:   


things icon
     + Things (this is the one I use and recommend)
     + Omnifocus
     + Wunderlist
     + Todoist
       a. Projects/Sections: In my application I create separate sections for the most important projects I need to accomplish (e.g. Finalize Course, Get Title Sponsor, etc.).  I also create general sections (e.g. HR, Marketing, Sales, etc.) for tasks that aren’t necessarily project-related
       b. Tasks:  Break each project down into individual tasks  
       c. To-Dos:  Put all of the items in each of the relevant sections 
       d. Today vs Anytime:  Your application should have at least two folders. One is marked “Today” and another is “Anytime” (or “Not Today”)
       e. Tags:  For every task and to-do item, add one of the following tags:
       + Important and Urgent (impacts business and has a deadline date)
       + Important and Not Urgent (typically your strategic items)
       + Not Important and Urgent (fires that don't grow business)
       + Not Important and Not Urgent (mundane tasks you’ll do if you ever have time. Which you don’t).
2. Today:  First thing every morning (or the last thing you do every night), look at your anytime list and select the 3-8 most critical things to accomplish that day, based on the tags of what is most important.  Move those items - and those items alone - to your Today list.
3. Get Stuff Done.  Your daily to-do list should never be more than 8 things.  The goal is to do everything you committed to doing that day, knowing that it is driving your business forward.  There is no greater sense of accomplishment than focusing on checking those items off your list.
4. Email.  When I go through my emails, anything that takes less than 2 minutes gets a response right away.  If it will take more than 2 minutes, I create a task in Things (my GTD program), tag its importance level and then put it in with the relevant project/section.  I then put that task into the Anytime/Not Today folder.
5. Week.  Every Sunday night or Monday morning I make a list of the three or four things I need to get done that week. Those go on my priority list.

That’s MOM.  When I listen to MOM, I know my priorities and I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Now stop reading this nonsense and go get something done. 


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