Being organized improves your workflow and, in the long run, will speed your progress and make you more money. A prioritized “to-do” list is essential to keep your business and day-to-day activities organized.
What Works for Me
There are likely numerous “best” ways to organize and prioritize your day for optimum production. Some time management experts might look at the use of a to-do list and roll their eyes; however, that’s one of the things what I used (and still do) to get my company where it is today.
It doesn’t really matter if you do this on the back of an envelope or a paper napkin, or on your smartphone or tablet. Personally, I prefer to use a notepad text document on my laptop. (Most laptops and desktops have a simple text document program like this.) I can quickly type out my list and go from there. Then whenever I need a quick reminder of what I should be doing, l open up the document and refer back to the list.
Write It All Down
There is a bit of a process to making and using effective to-do lists. It’s not just a list of random items.
Don’t brainstorm, but begin writing or typing out a list. Whatever task you’re aware you need to do today or this week, make sure to add it.
You may also want to write down more long-range items—ideas or innovations or campaigns—the “where-I-want-the-business-to-be-in-six-months-or-a-year” type of items.
As your list grows (and it will,) you will need to prioritize your items. Not all tasks have the same degree of importance. So, look at each item on the list and ask yourself: “Does it bring in revenue? Will it move my business forward?”
If the item contributes directly to bringing in money, then put it at the top of the list. If it doesn’t do that, then keep it low on the list or, if possible, delegate it to someone else.
Recognize what your time is worth and focus on the tasks that will more quickly build up your business. Especially if it’s a start-up, almost 100% of your tasks should be to bring in new customers, more customers, and to generate cash flow. So, the highest items on your list should be the actions that will accomplish that.
Identify Leverage Items
For people unfamiliar with the term “leverage” as it’s used in business, it means “getting more with less” or “multiplying your results without a corresponding increase in effort or consumption of resources.” This article provides some examples of how this works.
So, look at the top items on your list. Let’s say there are five items that could potentially move your business forward and bring in revenue. Among them, you will perhaps find that one of those items could have five times the impact of the others. The other four are also important, but the one item could have the biggest result.
That’s your leverage item.
Realize though that “getting more with less,” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. It just means that the effort or investment is small in relation to the results. In fact, a leverage item might seem a bit harder to do. We might be tempted to put it off, to procrastinate on it … and put it at the bottom of the list. We may then discover that we are unproductive—that our business is not moving forward.
So, whether that leverage item seems a bit too hard or a bit too boring, keep it at the top of your list, move the rest of the items down, and work on that top item.
Cut through the Noise
Even with a prioritized to-do list, life will continue to provide noise and distractions: your email inbox, phone calls, Facebook or other social media.
I know that it’s easy to get diverted by all the cool, shiny objects, and pleasant things. You’ll probably never be able to completely eliminate noise and distraction; but with your list, you’ve got a “blade” you can use to “cut” through it.
As your day begins to move forward, glance at your list from time to time and make sure that your business is moving forward, too. You will either discover that you’re organized, on-target, and making progress or that you’ve derailed from it. Use your list to get yourself back on track.
Making and properly prioritizing a to-do list is a simple action. But, it’s something you can use to maintain your direction (or, if you’ve strayed, to get back on course) toward business growth and financial success.