It is easy to complain about to do lists. They never seem to get completed which can lead to frustration. They can also make you feel like you are not getting anywhere or that you’re not achieving fast enough. This is the wrong way to look at to do lists, though.
If you manage to complete your to do list you are probably not pushing your business hard enough. Always having something else to do, on the other hand, shows ambition and drive. Therefore it is okay to have a never-ending to do list – even lots of them. It is okay, that is, so long as you prioritise them correctly.
Managing and prioritising to do lists is a skill that all business owners and entrepreneurs must learn, improve and develop. Here are some tips.
- Make Time Every Day To Prioritise
You can’t manage and prioritise your to do list if you don’t take time out to do it. You should do this every day. In fact, one of the best times to do it is at the end of the day where you are looking forward to what you have to do tomorrow. When you use this approach you can get started on your to do list items the following day immediately, instead of starting the day by planning.
- Identify Your Most Important Task
You should assess the importance of each task in relation to your business, i.e. not in relation to how quickly or easily you will complete it. Things to take into account include whether the task makes you money, whether it involves an approaching deadline, or whether it helps grow and develop your business. These are the tasks you should do first.
- Delegate As Much As You Can
One of the reasons that you feel swamped by your to do list might be because you are trying to do too much yourself. Can a task be performed by another member of your team? Did you need to get involved in a situation or project but could now step back from it and let your employees get on with the job? Look at all of these things to decide which tasks you can delegate. Only keep the ones that absolutely have to be done by you.
- Use Milestones
When working on bigger projects you should split them up into milestones. This will help you manage the project or task better as you will be able to make sure there is consistent progress. Milestones also help with to do list management. They give you a sense of achievement which will motivate you to keep going.
- Avoid All Distractions (Except The Important Ones)
Distractions are probably the main reason that you are not completing enough tasks on your to do list. It has always been a problem: phones ringing, or people calling in to your office, for example. Modern technology is making it even worse. We are now slaves to the email inbox and the message notifications on our phones. This is not a productive way to work, and it will hamper your progress through your to do list. So, when you start a task, ignore all distractions and focus entirely on completing it.
Actually, that should say you should ignore all distractions except for the important ones. That might sound like a contradiction but there are things that happen in business that can change your priorities – an issue with a client, for example.
The way that you work through your to do list should be rigid enough that you are able to complete the important tasks, but flexible enough that you can respond to the genuine needs of your business.